February 3, 2023

Troop Drawdowns Draw Outcries

DoD photo by Spc. Tia Sokimson, US Army. Creative commons license.

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Acting DefSec Chris Miller says the US will draw down its troop levels to 2,500 in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the new year, a number previously tied to conditions the Taliban has not met, reports Military Times. “With the blessings of Providence in the coming year,” Miller said, “we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home. We will protect our children from the heavy burden and toll of perpetual war.”

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said a sudden withdrawal by the Americans, who are vital to coalition operations in the war-torn country, would undermine NATO’s strategy, reports Defense News. Politico reports NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned against a hasty pullout, saying “the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high.” Some 12,000 NATO troops remain in Afghanistan, with more than half of those from non-US allied countries.

A White House plan to reduce the number of US forces in conflict areas includes removing more than 700 troops based in Somalia, where the military in recent years has expanded operations against al-Qaida-linked fighters, reports Stars and Stripes.

Defense Priorities says no vital interests justify US force deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or the greater Middle East, and calls for an exiting of the region.

House and Senate conferees will wrangle next week over the massive 2021 defense authorization bill which still faces potentially bill-derailing fights over renaming of Confederate-named bases and regarding an Afghanistan drawdown, reports Defense News.

President-elect Joe Biden’s early front runners to be the next VA secretary include several veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, reports Military Times.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal was among 13 foreign policy and national security experts briefing who briefed President-elect Biden this week in Wilmington, DL.  President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede blocks the president-elect from speaking directly with sitting administration officials, reports Washington Examiner.



The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday gave an emergency green light to the first rapid coronavirus test that can run from start to finish at home. The New York Times reports how it works and who can use it.

Stars and Stripes reports on a CBS News investigation airing this week that found, despite service members reporting more sexual assaults over the past decade, courts-martial and convictions for the charge have declined.

The showdown is heating up in the replacement of retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry as top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, reports Defense News. The battle between House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Mike Rogers (R-AL) and House Strategic Forces Subcommittee ranking member Mike Turner (R-OH) has been underway for years. The chairmanship will be decided in a few weeks.

After 10 days of disaster response in the wake of Hurricane Eta, all members of Joint Task Force-Bravo returned to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, to “… regroup and better posture to rapidly deploy when the call comes” for the next one, said Army Col. John Litchfield, commander of JTF-B. Hurricane Iota made landfall in Nicaragua weakening from a Category 4 hurricane with sustained gusts of 155 mph to a tropical storm

Navy has graduated its first 33 students from a new aviation program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, aimed at better preparing would-be aviators and flight officers for the rigors of flight, reports Navy Times. The new program folds in military procedures earlier and screens for airsickness and other disqualifiers with the aim of reducing attrition further into the training pipeline.

The 20-month grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max after two fatal crashes could end as soon as this week, reports CNN Business. In addition to the tragedies of 346 lives lost, Boeing’s mounting costs are in the tens of billions of dollars over safety oversights and mismanagement that will rank among the costliest corporate mistakes in history.

In a milestone test, the US Navy shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean with an SM-3 Block IIA missile, demonstrating a potential scheme to defend Hawaii, Defense News reports.

The pandemic prompted the Navy to eliminate all physical fitness tests for the rest of 2020, reports Navy Times. But sailors can expect physical fitness assessments to pick up again in March 2021, according to Chief of Naval Personnel VADM John Nowell Jr.


The Bell Boeing Joint Program Office, California, Maryland, has been awarded a maximum $36,546,991 firm-fixed-price modification (P00009) to three-year delivery order SPE4AX-18-D-9433 against base contract SPRPA1-17-D-009U to extend the period of performance for delivery of V-22 spare consumable and depot-level repairable parts. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 US Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1.  Locations of performance are Maryland, Texas, and Pennsylvania, with a May 10, 2023, performance completion date. Using military services are Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hydrogeologic Inc., Reston, Virginia (W9128F-21-D-0006); Cape Environmental Management Inc., Norcross, Georgia (W9128F-21-D-0007); Environmental Chemical Corp., Burlingame, California (W9128F-21-D-0008); Bhate Environmental Associates Inc., Birmingham, Alabama (W9128F-21-D-0009); Bay West-Ahtna JV LLC, Saint Paul, Minnesota (W9128F-21-D-0010); Bristol Environmental Remediation Services LLC, Anchorage, Alaska (W9128F-21-D-0011); Kemron Environmental Services Inc., Atlanta, Georgia (W9128F-21-D-0012); and North Wind-CDM JV LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho (W9128F-21-D-0013), will compete for each order of the $176,250,000 hybrid (cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price) contract for environmental remediation projects. Bids were solicited via the internet with 21 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 17, 2025. The US Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha, Nebraska, is the contracting activity.

B.L. Harbert International LLC, Birmingham, Alabama, was awarded a $46,500,000 firm-fixed-price contract for repair and replacement of existing taxiway pavements, shoulders, drainage, signage, lighting systems, duct banks, paint and markings and temporary taxiways. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 11, 2022. Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $46,500,000 were obligated at the time of the award. The US Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W912DR-21-C-0002).

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Co., Stratford, Connecticut, is awarded a $16,441,085 modification (P00001) to firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable order N00019-20-F-0024 against previously issued basic ordering agreement N00019-19-G-0029. This modification provides for fiscal 2021 special progressive aircraft rework sustainment efforts in support of the VH-3D/VH-60N executive helicopter. Specifically, this modification provides security, project engineering, integrated logistics, material, sustainment engineering, training and program support. Work will be performed in Stratford, Connecticut (88%); and Quantico, Virginia (12%), and is expected to be completed in November 2021. Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $16,441,085 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

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