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IAVA | February 18, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – February 18, 2015

Tarnisha Gibson, center, hugs her son, Spc. Bradley Gibson, left, and husband, Staff Sgt. Corwyn Gibson, on Feb. 11 during a homecoming celebration at Fort Hood's Cooper Field in Fort Hood, Texas.  Eric J. Shelton/The Killeen Daily Herald via AP | Military Times ><figcaption id=>” width=”650″ height=”488″> Tarnisha Gibson, center, hugs her son, Spc. Bradley Gibson, left, and husband, Staff Sgt. Corwyn Gibson, on Feb. 11 during a homecoming celebration at Fort Hood’s Cooper Field in Fort Hood, Texas. Eric J. Shelton/The Killeen Daily Herald via AP | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

VA says suicide hotline improvements were in the works
Improvements were underway at the Veterans Affairs suicide hotline well before the VA inspector general issued a report last week that faulted the service for failing to help some veterans, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said Wednesday.| Military Times >>

VA won’t reinstate fired employee, despite judge’s ruling
An employee appeals board has ordered the Department of Veterans Affairs to reinstate a fired medical center director found to have ignored patient abuse, though the board upheld the charges against her. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson vowed to ignore the order to restore Weiss to her director’s job and to award her back pay. | Stars and Stripes >>

Missing radioactive material in Iraq prompts nationwide search, ISIS fears
A desperate hunt for “highly dangerous” radioactive material is on in Iraq, where officials fear it could be used to make a “dirty bomb” if in the hands of ISIS, according to a government official in Baghdad. | Fox News >>


A series of deadly Taliban bombings in the capital since the start of the year have unnerved Afghans and Western officials increasingly concerned about the deteriorating security. Then, on Jan. 27, the lines that carry much of Kabul’s electricity south from Uzbekistan were cut in Baghlan Province, in an area marked by savage fighting between Afghan troops and insurgents. Attacks since then have also knocked out lines from Tajikistan, cutting the capital’s power supply by about 80 percent. | New York Times >>

The United Nations on Wednesday condemned all sides in Afghanistan’s conflict for using child soldiers, noting that while government forces have curbed the practice, insurgent groups continue to train large numbers of fighters under the age of 18. | Associated Press >>

In many respects, Mullah Rashid embodies the evolution of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. As a hardened insurgent, most notorious for planning a mass suicide attack in Nimruz during the holy month of Ramadan, he had become among the most powerful drug smugglers in all of southern Afghanistan. | New York Times >>


Parts of the Iraqi Army’s 15th division, a unit of around 1,000 soldiers, have moved into Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days, according to a senior U.S. military official. Army Col. Steve Warren, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, confirmed to reporters that the unit’s headquarters element had arrived at the Kurdish frontline position in Mahkmour. The move was first reported late last week by the AFP. | Washington Post >>

Iraq has been steadily gaining ground against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), which is gradually losing its appeal to the disenfranchised population, the United Nations envoy for that country told the Security Council today, as he also warned that its threat should not be underestimated. | UN News Centre >>
The United States is pressing NATO to play a bigger role against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, putting Washington at odds with Germany and France which fear the strategy would risk confrontation with the alliance’s old Cold War foe Russia. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

More than 6,300 sailor job cuts set for 2017 won’t harm the manpower additions made in recent years to ships, squadrons and submarines, the Navy’s top officer has said. Disbanding an air wing and speeding up sailors’ training pipeline accounts for most of the proposed cuts, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, told reporters Friday. | Navy Times >>

Four of the most advanced U.S. fighter jets flew over South Korea on Wednesday in a clear show of force against North Korea, a day after South Korea’s president warned of the North’s collapse amid a festering standoff over its nuclear and missile ambitions. | Associated Press >>

“Women and men working together is better.” Fox Business host Stuart Varney had his mind officially blown on Feb. 16 when Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, revealed himself as a supporter of women in special operations. | Task & Purpose >>


Sales of Preston’s music were better than ever. A music video of his latest song was viewed hundreds of thousands of times. John was being asked to perform, speak, and write on the issue of post traumatic stress on a national level. Yes, things were happening just as Preston had planned. Life, however, has a nasty way of sometimes not following the tune. | NBC Bay Area >>

“Terminal Lance,” created by former Marine and Iraq War veteran Maximilian Uriarte, has quickly become a cultural phenomenon, blending humor with the intricacies of Marine Corps grunt life. Since its debut in 2010, it has become a staple in the Marine Corps Times, and the hand signal has been flashed by retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Medal of Honor recipients and celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Channing Tatum. | Stars and Stripes >>

The Tillman Scholars program, which annually awards scholarships to 60 military veterans and spouses, is accepting applications now until March 1. The scholarship is more than a gift, it’s an investment in excellence and an opportunity to become part of a community of game-changers. Apply here, and read on to learn about six kickass accomplishments of the Tillman Scholars. | Task & Purpose >>

Inside Washington

Angie Morelli is a Las Vegas business owner and a former Marine. She is also a former Republican who served in Afghanistan. Now she supports Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. And she has been chosen to ask a question at the nationally televised Town Hall meeting Thursday night in Las Vegas. | Nevada Public Radio >>

GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson have urged the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to put a stop to retaliation against Phoenix VA whistleblower Brandon Coleman. Grassley, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Johnson, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, wrote a letter Tuesday demanding that the department reinstate Coleman and transfer him out of the abusive Phoenix VA system to another facility, where he can finally continue his work without constant harassment from superiors. | The Daily Caller >>

Nearly three dozen whistleblowers have come forward saying the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati is in a state of disorder. They say veterans are not getting the care they need in the backyard of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, the former chief executive of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. | WCPO >>

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