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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 9, 2016

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Air Force Senior Airman Natalie Plas, 1st Combat Camera Squadron aerial combat broadcaster, climbs an obstacle for a team building exercise during exercise Scorpion Lens on March 6 at Fort Jackson, S.C. Exercise Scorpion Lens is an annual Ability to Survive and Operate training evolution mandated by Air Force 3N0XX Job Qualification Standards (3N0XX AFJQS). Staff Sgt. Perry Aston/Air Force | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

Legislation would halt bad military discharges due to PTSD, TBI
Lawmakers want to avoid having troops disgracefully forced from the ranks because of behavior related to post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, but Pentagon officials may already be on the way to fixing the problem. | Military Times >>

VA failed to contact tens of thousands of veterans with pending health care applications
The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Monday that it failed to contact tens of thousands of the more than 800,000 veterans who have applications for health care pending, nearly 300,000 of whom died before getting a resolution. | Stars and Stripes >>

Americans Think Terrorists Are Winning — They’re Not
Fears of a terrorist attack happening in the United States are at their highest since 2005. Even more surprising is the rate at which Americans seem to think we’re losing the War on Terrorism. | Huffington Post >>

Afghanistan

Despite more than $35 billion in U.S. support since the Taliban was driven from power here in 2001, the regular Afghan army is still broadly criticized as ineffective because of defections, timidity and an inconsistent command-and-control network. But U.S. and Afghan officials believe the army’s commando and Special Forces units can fill the void and should be sufficient to reassure nervous Afghans that the Taliban won’t be able to fight its way back into power. | Washington Post >>

U.S. and Afghan officials appealed to the Taliban on Monday not to abandon peace talks with the Afghan government, amid fears that the group’s rejection of the talks will trigger a new wave of bloodletting as the summer fighting season nears. | Washington Times >>

The banks of the placid Helmand River have always been the social center of Lashkar Gah, the southern Afghan provincial capital sometimes called Little America during the decades of modernization efforts here. The appeal of the river stands aside from worldly concerns, and there are many of those lately. | New York Times >>

Iraq

Iraq’s U.S.-backed military is building a ground force and conducting operations in preparation for the largest confrontation yet with the Islamic State — the battle to retake Mosul. The fight is still months away, but Iraqi ground forces and coalition airstrikes have already begun to isolate militants inside the city, cutting supply lines and trying to weaken militants in advance of a ground assault to take back Iraq’s second-largest city. | USA Today >>

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday to express condolences for a suicide attack on Sunday that killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 70, the White House said. | Reuters >>

The U.S.-led coalition on Monday targeted Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with two dozen strikes near 15 cities, the U.S. military said in a statement released on Tuesday detailing the latest round of daily attacks against the militant group. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Applications are being accepted for a unique broadening opportunity that allows certain officers and noncommissioned officers of the Military Police Corps to attend the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia. | Army Times >>

The U.S. Navy reports the John P. Murtha, its future amphibious transport dock, successfully completed builder’s trials earlier this month. The trials of the ship, designated LPD 26, by Huntington Ingalls Industries occurred over four days and included at-sea demonstrations, which ready the ship for full testing demonstrations with the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey. | UPI >>

One of the toughest lessons the U.S. military learned from Operation Tomodachi is that it sometimes has to fight its natural inclination to take charge and instead needs to synch its actions more closely with a host nation’s requests. “They’re in the lead. They make the decisions; it’s their country,” said Jim Welsh, branch chief for training and education at the Honolulu-based Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, which operates under U.S. Pacific Command. | Stars and Stripes >>

VetsRising

In 2007, Bobby Henline survived a devastating explosion that killed the rest of the men in his Army vehicle in Iraq and burned more than 38 percent of his body. Now, nine years and 40-plus surgeries later, Henline, 44, wants to pay his gratitude forward – by opening a restaurant that will employ other veterans and serve the community. | People Magazine >>

Iditarod veteran Casillo started Battle Dawgs four years ago for combat veterans, aiming to “change and save lives,” he said. The nonprofit connects veterans with the outdoors and promotes teamwork in an effort to shrink suicide rates, Casillo said. He takes the veterans on glacier tours, ice fishing trips and asks them to help out with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. | Alaska Dispatch News >>

Gunter and Schwerin, who are both from Phenix City, were among 150 veterans and first-responders who rode out of Atlanta on Sunday toward New Orleans with Ride 2 Recovery. They arrived in Montgomery on Monday. After entering the county, they were greeted by local Patriot Guard Riders, which is made up of mostly military veteran motorcyclists who make it their mission to honor their military brothers and sisters. Together they took a break and chatted at the Waugh/Mt. Meigs Fire Department. | Montgomery Advertiser >>

Inside Washington

Top officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs will meet this week with leaders from several leading veterans’ service organizations, seeking common ground on a legislative proposal that would overhaul the appeals process for veterans’ compensation claims. | Federal News Radio >>

A lawyer for Dr. Barbara Temeck, who was removed last month from her job as acting chief of staff of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, said Temeck “is being offered up as a scapegoat” for problems at the VA facility now under federal investigation. | Cincinnati Enquirer >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the awarding of 21 contracts worth up to $22.3 billion for information technology infrastructure improvements, cyber security and operations and network management. | Health News Digest >>

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