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IAVA | March 10, 2016

IAVA Daily News Brief – March 10, 2016

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholi Zapara, a diver with the Regional Dive Locker Pacific, surfaces from a hull inspection on USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC 39) while docked in Honolulu.  Michael Perrault/Coast Guard | Military Times >>
Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholi Zapara, a diver with the Regional Dive Locker Pacific, surfaces from a hull inspection on USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC 39) while docked in Honolulu. Michael Perrault/Coast Guard | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

VA aims to improve beleaguered suicide prevention efforts
One month after a damning report about unanswered calls on a veterans crisis line, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced a new effort to combat suicide, including automatically enrolling separating troops into the VA healthcare system. As part of the effort, VA will guarantee same-day evaluations and establish national tele-mental health centers for veterans with urgent mental health needs. | Stars and Stripes >>

VA gives deadline to veterans who have applied for health care
The Veterans Affairs Department has figured out how to fix a backlog of health care applications that dates back at least four years: Enforce a law requiring veterans to furnish the necessary paperwork, or the applications will be closed. In a press release issued on Monday, VA officials said the department will “extend the healthcare enrollment application for one year” to 545,000 veterans who have applied for VA health care to allow time for VA to contact them and for the veterans to furnish the required information. | Military Times >>

A Sad Truth for Veterans: Asbestos and the ‘Political Pawns’
Every year, hundreds or even thousands of American veterans who thought they survived military service discover that they were wrong; exposure to asbestos was a mortal wound that took decades to surface, evolving into the much-advertised mesothelioma, a terminal cancer. | Huffington Post >>


China has offered the Afghanistan army expanded military aid to combat the Taliban, according to the Afghan Defense Ministry, a move that reflects Beijing’s readiness to deepen its engagement with the war-torn country. | Wall Street Journal >>

The Taliban attacked a police headquarters and an intelligence agency office early Wednesday in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, where the insurgents have been battling government forces for months. | Associated Press >>

Pentagon officials say a key combat strategist in the Islamic State was likely killed by coalition airstrikes in Syria last week, a blow that, if true, would strike at the heart of the extremist organization. Abu Omar al-Shishani was killed near Shadadi, a town that Kurdish and Syrian forces managed to wrest from ISIS control only recently. | Washington Post >>


U.S. special forces captured the head of the Islamic State terror group’s unit trying to develop chemical weapons in a raid last month in northern Iraq, a defense official tells Fox News. “We are using information we have learned for operations,” one official said. The captured operative was identified as Sleiman Daoud al-Afari. | Fox News >>

The United States must do more to blunt the spread of the Islamic State group in Libya, a “failed state” and magnet for a growing number of militants exploiting chaos, U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. David Rodriguez said Tuesday. | Stars and Stripes >>

Humanitarian disaster is looming in the western Iraq city of Falluja, an Islamic State stronghold under siege by security forces, where tens of thousands of people face food shortages, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army is testing a high-tech airdrop system that uses a sophisticated video navigation system to locate its target. The system could prove invaluable for airdrops in difficult terrain and urban environments, researchers say. | Fox News >>

The U.S. Air Force’s much-maligned F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has yet another software problem that requires pilots to reset the radar system by shutting it off and turning it back on again. The F-35 program has been consistently dogged by software problems, driving the cost up to roughly $400 billion for the first 2,457 planes. The cost is expected to surpass $1 trillion over the course of the program’s 55-year life cycle. | Washington Times >>

Marines will see changes in marksmanship and weapons gear this year, including the phasing out of legacy M16 iron sights and the three-point sling. Marine officials announced annual changes to the Corps’ combat marksmanship program last week based on recommendations from a gathering of key decision makers aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, last October. | Marine Corps Times >>


Taylor Force excelled at everything he did. As a Boy Scout, he attained the highest, most difficult rank: Eagle Scout. The descendent of generations of soldiers, Force was a National Honor Society member at New Mexico Military Institute, and then went on to West Point. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq, making it home from the war zones alive and with his positive outlook intact. But the smart and promising 28-year-old was struck down in his prime by a Palestinian terrorist’s blade on Tuesday, one of multiple stabbing attacks in Israel that resulted in a dozen police and civilian casualties. | Fox News >>

Running blind is just a euphemism for most people, but Sgt. Sean Johnson is doing it competitively. Johnson, of Aberdeen, has been competing in recent days in the Army Trials 2016 with hopes of advancing to the Department of Defense Warrior Games in June. | American News >>

Army veteran Julio Munoz waited three years, but it finally happened. Munoz had been separated from his beloved service dog, Ben, after fighting alongside one another in Afghanistan. Munoz was supposed to have the opportunity to adopt Ben after deployment, but he never got that chance. | USA Today >>

Inside Washington

The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday launched a tweet — now deleted — accusing Illinois Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth of “not standing up for veterans.” But Duckworth, who is running for Senate, is a combat veteran who lost both of her legs in an attack on her helicopter in Iraq. | USA Today >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded numerous contracts amounting to $22.3 billion Tuesday for the technical support services, program management and infrastructure development behind its MyVA transformation. | Fed Scoop >>

Better mental health care for service members and their families, tougher sexual assault policies and an improved retirement plan are key if the military is to retain troops, service personnel officials told lawmakers Tuesday. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, service officials said that rising suicide rates and mental health problems need to be addressed through better care options. | Medill News Service >>

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