January 25, 2021

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NDAA May Prove Veto-Proof

NDAA

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In a 335-78 vote, the House approved the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday, defying the president’s veto threats with the better-than two-thirds vote needed to override a veto, reports The Hill. Although some Republicans could switch their vote if it comes to overriding the president, 140 Republicans voted “yes” and 37 Democrats voted “no.”

Defense News quotes Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) urging President Donald Trump not to veto and saying if he does veto the NDAA, “We should override.″ President Trump has threatened to send back the NDAA over a provision to rename military bases named for Confederate generals and for not including a repeal of Section 230 liability protection for social media companies. The bill also bars US troop reductions in Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea without significant justifications.

In The Atlantic, President-elect Joe Biden explains his choice of retired GEN Lloyd Austin III as his nominee for defense secretary. “He is a true and tested soldier and leader. I’ve spent countless hours with him, in the field and in the White House Situation Room. I’ve sought his advice, seen his command, and admired his calm and his character. He is the definition of a patriot.”

Military Times reports that many in the defense community say selection of a recently retired general to run the Pentagon further threatens the principle of civilian control of the military. Because GEN Austin has not been out of the military for seven years, a waiver is required to appoint him.

Politico reports that GEN Austin faces early resistance from Democrats on Capitol Hill, indicating a potentially rocky confirmation process for one of the top Cabinet posts. Defense News says Biden’s team has agreed that the general will testify before the House Armed Services Committee as a prerequisite for a waiver.

President Trump has appointed his longtime aide Kellyanne Conway to the US Air Force Academy Board of Visitors, reports Air Force Times. It’s the second appointment to the board that the president has made in the past week as his term winds down. Last week he appointed Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, to be a member of the board.

High-risk VA health workers, older veterans, and minorities will be the first to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine, reports Military.com. The VA will consider a patient or staff member’s risk of becoming infected with the virus or likelihood of spreading the illness, along with the “risk of harm to society if essential workers are unable to work,” in allocating its supply of a COVID-19 vaccine, the first of which is expected to receive emergency approval by Food and Drug Administration this week.

 

 

The US Space Force officially took control of the sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite Oct. 29, reports C4ISR, and Dec. 4 the satellite control authority of the space vehicle transferred to Space Operations Command. The 4th Space Operations Squadron will have operational control of the satellite as it’s integrated into the full constellation.

The Associated Press reports the Virginia Military Institute removed a prominent statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a project initiated this fall after allegations of systemic racism roiled the public college.

Most military members will likely see their base pay increase in January, but through March, President Trump’s August payroll tax deferment requires those taxes be repaid in the new year, reports Military.com. That means while a 3% pay raise for military members is on track, the president’s deferment order will temporarily lower the wages of most Americans by 6.2% for the first three months of next year.

Veterans behind on their mortgages due to COVID-19 related hardships might have low-interest loans made available through the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover their overdue payments, reports Military.com. The plan, outlined in the Federal Register, could help about 60,000 veterans who hold VA home loans avoid eviction. The VA is seeking public comments on the plan through Jan. 7.

Dr. James Phillips, the emergency room physician who criticized President Trump’s drive with Secret Service agents to greet supporters in October while he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, has been removed from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s schedule starting in January, reports CBS.

Military.com reports the Army has a new classification system for missing soldiers in response to an independent review of Fort Hood, TX, which found  sergeants showed an “unwillingness or lack of ability” to keep track of their soldiers. The new policy follows the disappearance and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen and other Hood soldiers found dead after being listed as absent without leave.

Acting DefSec Christopher Miller announced nearly $30 million worth of weapons were delivered to the Philippines, just ahead of his brief visit Tuesday to Manila, where he met with his Philippine counterpart and the foreign secretary, reports Military Times. The Philippines faces threats from Islamic State group-linked militants. The weapons include equipment for snipers and anti-bomb squads.

By 2017, US sailors in Bahrain were not just patronizing prostitutes, but also involved as profiteers, reports Military Times. A Thai prostitute central to the Navy investigations, Lin Raiwest, managed a stable of prostitutes and was also a longtime confidential NCIS informant, plying her illicit trade, reporting sailor misconduct, and collecting cash rewards in the process.

The Navy has selected a woman, CAPT Amy Bauernschmidt, to command a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for the first time in American history, reports Task & Purpose. Other officers who were picked for nuclear aircraft carrier command include CAPTS Colin Day, Gavin Duff, Brent Gaut, David Pollard, and Craig Sicola.

Stars and Stripes reports BRIG GEN Wanda N. Williams has assumed leadership of the Kaiserslautern-based 7th Mission Support Command, becoming the first Black woman to serve in a job that also makes her deputy commander of Army logistics efforts in Germany.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt has left port for its second operational deployment this year and its sister ship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is also preparing to deploy for the second time in 12 months, reports The Drive. “Double pump” deployments come amid a surge in demand for aircraft carriers to support US military operations around the world, but at a time when a significant number of America’s flattops are tied up undergoing maintenance and major overhauls.

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