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IAVA Daily News Brief – October 23, 2015

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Service Dog of the Year, Axel, and his owner, retired Marine Capt. Jason Haag, attend the congressional briefing “America’s Hero Dog: A celebration of Working Dogs in Our Lives” in Washington. The American Humane Society event intends to bring attention to the issues affecting people and dogs. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

V.A. Won’t Let 5 Officials Testify, Antagonizing Congress
The increasingly tense relationship between Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs was on display in a standoff Wednesday in which the department refused to allow five officials prominent in a report on misuse of authority and waste of government money to appear before the House Veterans Affairs Committee for questioning. | New York Times >>

Obama vetoes defense policy bill over spending fight
President Barack Obama on Thursday vetoed the annual defense policy bill that includes troop pay and benefits – as well as historic personnel reforms – making good on a promise to oppose Republicans on spending. | Stars and Stripes >>

Some companies “seem afraid” of hiring veterans. Here’s why that’s nuts.
Companies love to pay lip service to hiring veterans, but post-9/11 service members have a higher unemployment rate (7.3%) than the rest of the population (6%). And that’s despite the government embarking on a veteran hiring spree—33% of all Federal civilian hires in fiscal 2014. Private companies still aren’t quite doing their share, which is surprising given that the benefits of hiring service members have been well-chronicled. | Fortune >>

Afghanistan

President Obama spoke directly to the Taliban and its backers in Pakistan when he announced his plan last week to keep 5,500 troops in the country indefinitely. “The only real way to achieve the full drawdown of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan is through a lasting political settlement with the Afghan government,” Obama said. | Washington Post >>

An al Qaeda training camp in southern Afghanistan that was the target of a major raid last week had been operating since last November — and the U.S. didn’t learn the full details about the site until July, coalition forces said in an email Wednesday. | CNN >>

The new political landscape in Afghanistan has served to mute the official furor over the deadly U.S. attack this month on a hospital in Kunduz, an incident that in the past might have caused a crisis in relations between Kabul and Washington. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

An American soldier was fatally wounded on Thursday as American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State prison in northern Iraq after learning that the prisoners faced imminent mass execution, the Pentagon said. The commando became the first American soldier killed in action in Iraq since the withdrawal in 2011. | New York Times >>

Senior U.S. military officials have said the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq is at a stalemate. But new numbers say otherwise: Attacks carried out by the group from Syria through Nigeria have jumped by 42 percent over the past three months, according to a report released Thursday. | Foreign Policy >>

U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq and Syria carried out a large-scale attack on Syria’s Omar oil field as part of its mission to target the Islamic State group’s ability to generate money, a coalition spokesman said Thursday. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The Army Reserve is still poised to expand its presence on the Continent, even as it and the overall Army continue to draw down to meet budgetary demands, the Reserve’s top civilian official said Thursday. | Stars and Stripes >>

If a crew member of the Army tugboat MG Winfield Scott is injured at sea, the Coast Guard is just a call away. That call, which dispatches the closest helicopter unit to evacuate a soldier, means the difference between a couple hours of pain or enduring days aboard the 73rd Transportation Company’s only sea-going vessel until it reaches a port. But before Wednesday, it had been years since the military unit practiced emergency evacuations with the Coast Guard. | Daily Press >>

Today’s carrier air wing is obsolete against sophisticated foes. So argues a retired naval flight officer in a controversial new report that calls for the Navy to reconfigure its air wings to fly farther to keep the aircraft carrier beyond the range of the latest generation of anti-ship missiles. | Navy Times >>

#VetsRising

There’s a special reason to reach out to U.S. military veterans Thursday, Oct. 22. It’s Buddy Check 22 day. “BUDDY CHECK 22 is a day to call a veteran that you know and check in on them to hopefully change the fact that 22 veterans a day commit suicide,” organizers posted on Facebook. | ABC 7 Denver >>

Five years after sharing a battlefield, Marine Sgt. Chris Jaramillo and his dog Shooter have been reunited. “A rush of excitement. Here he is- this is real,” said Jaramillo while standing with Shooter. Jaramillo and Shooter were paired together in Afghanistan. While there, Jaramillo, an engineer, and Shooter, who sniffed out IEDs, were practically inseparable. | KHOU >>

The next villain of the Star Wars franchise also happens to be a military veteran. Meet Adam Driver, the apparent villain of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” set to be released in December 2015. He’s 31, a graduate of Juilliard, and you’ve seen him in the HBO series “Girls,” along with films such as “J. Edgar,” “Lincoln,” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.” But before his acting career took off, he was U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Driver. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the San Diego-native decided to enlist. | We Are The Mighty >>

Inside Washington

The Senate Armed Services Committee said Oct. 20 that the United States may have to purchase fewer F-35 joint strike fighter jets. Committee chairman Sen. John McCain of Arizona — a critic of the program — said the 2,443 aircraft expected to be purchased by the Air Force, Marines, and Navy will not match budget realities. | Task & Purpose >>

The Veterans Affairs Department is grappling with how to provide vets and their families with more useful information about colleges and training programs while still being fair to schools that might be under the cloud of an investigation. By Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, the VA intends to release an update to its comparison tool with new outcome measures such as graduation rates. | Politico >>

Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Lamar Alexander (TN) wrote today to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter calling on him to “reconsider” the Department’s decision to put the largest for-profit college, the University of Phoenix, on probation for alleged violations in recruiting U.S. military service members. All three Senators have received significant campaign contributions from officials of Apollo Education Group, the owner of the University of Phoenix. | Huffington Post >>

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