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IAVA Daily News Brief – September 29, 2015

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New Jersey Air Force National Guard members Jake Kaiser, left, of Freehold, N.J., and Nicole Marcus, of Mount Laurel, N.J., patrol the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on Sunday in Philadelphia. The bridge was shut down to vehicular traffic over the weekend during Pope Francis’ visit to the city. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Report: Senior VA executives abused positions for financial gain
A senior Department of Veterans Affairs manager hired to clean up a beleaguered regional office in Philadelphia misused her position to create the very vacancy she volunteered for as part of a wider scheme by VA officials to give stealth raises to executives, according to a VA Office of Inspector General report. | Stars and Stripes >>

VA expanding the services it offers to women
This month, Veterans Affairs’ Center for Women Veterans and the VA Women’s Health Group are launching a new initiative, “I’m One.” The campaign focuses on developing identity and respect for women veterans who often say they feel invisible and not acknowledged or respected for their service. “I’m One” is also meant to encourage more women to self-identify with their veteran status and to access the programs and services they have earned. | Philadelphia Inquirer >>

Miller bill would fund beleaguered VA Denver hospital project through scaled back executive bonuses
A bill introduced Sept. 25 by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) would give the Veterans Affairs Department the money it needs to finish its troubled Denver hospital project, but the money to pay for it would come from capping VA executive bonuses. | Fierce Government >>

Afghanistan

Afghanistan said Monday that the Taliban have captured the northern city of Kunduz after a series of battles with government forces, marking the first time the insurgents have seized a major urban area since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. | Fox News >>

Afghanistan’s most decorated pilot, Colonel Qalandar Shah Qalandari, recently questioned the usefulness of a new fleet of American-made light attack helicopter gunships, according to an interview published in the New York Times. | The Diplomat >>

As many as 10 people were killed and around 50 injured, many of them children, in a suspected suicide attack that took place during a cricket match in Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktika province on Sunday. The attack took place after explosives planted on a motorcycle detonated near a volleyball field. | International Business Times >>

Iraq

Iraq would be receptive to Russian requests to conduct reconnaissance flights in Iraqi airspace to spy on Islamic State militants, a defense ministry spokesman said on Monday, as Moscow’s deepening military role in the country complicates a separate U.S.-backed campaign against the militants. | Wall Street Journal >>

A dedicated manhunt by the CIA, the National Security Agency and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command has been methodically finding and killing senior militants in Syria and Iraq, in one of the few clear success stories of the U.S. military campaign in those countries. | Associated Press >>

Iraq will begin sharing “security and intelligence” information with Russia, Syria and Iran to help combat ISIS, the Iraqi military said Sunday. A statement issued by the Joint Operations Command said the countries will “help and cooperate in collecting information about the terrorist Daesh group,” using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

Marine leaders are considering expanding the Corps’ mission in Ukraine by training local troops who could be tasked with taking on Russian-backed separatists. Marines could deploy to the Eastern European country to train the Ukrainian naval infantry, said Capt. Richard Ulsh, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa. | Marine Corps Times >>

For the first time since it started calling Norfolk home more than two years ago, the Navy hospital ship Comfort will pull into port this week, buoyed by six months of humanitarian achievement. The Comfort moved from Baltimore to Norfolk in March 2013 in what Navy officials thought would be several quick weeks in port before heading south on its biannual humanitarian mission to South and Central America, known as Continuing Promise. | The Virginian-Pilot >>

For years, the Air Force has had an officer at the stick when one of its remotely piloted aircraft takes off. Next year, all that could change. The Air Force is taking a serious look at whether to allow enlisted airmen — who until now have been limited to crew roles such as sensor operators — to fly its drones. | Air Force Times >>

VetsRising

When it comes to positive influences, this guest is a heavyweight champion. Boxer, Eric Morante, is a role model for struggling disabled veterans to rediscover their will to overcome. Watch as he gives Paul a lesson in boxing. | KENS 5 San Antonio >>

Riders near the end of the line for the 16th annual Victory for Veterans Memorial Ride at Wicker Memorial Park in Highland Sunday morning waited their turn to ride sagely admiring each other’s wheels. Their reason for being there — raising money for veterans’ causes — was unquestioned and unwavering, but checking out “the competition” is part of the fun. | Chicago Tribune >>

KIIn the last decade, poachers have killed more than half of central Africa’s elephants. Now, a group of U.S. veterans is rallying to stop the illegal killing of animals on the continent. | Military Times >>

Inside Washington

A government watchdog said Monday that the Veterans Affairs department routinely wasted taxpayer money in promoting and transferring senior executives, spending $1.3 million to relocate just 22 employees over a three-year period. | Washington Times >>

Defense hearings: Shutdown looms over Congress’ work
The nation will know whether a government shutdown can be avoided by midnight on Wednesday, the end of the fiscal year. Until then, Congress has a full slate of cybersecurity and Syria oversight work. | Navy Times >>

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale is accusing Mayor Bill de Blasio of not “understanding the military,” after the mayor declined to support a bill that would allow servicemembers to purchase credit toward the public retirement system based on their years of service. | Capital New York >>

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