Headlines – March 15, 2019

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News

Is miscommunication to blame in U.S. airstrike that killed at least 5 Afghan troops? –
Authorities are investigating an errant U.S. strike on an Afghan military base in the country’s south that killed at least five Afghan troops, a lawmaker said March 14.
 
In testimony, Shanahan underlines it’s ‘China, China, China’ –
Amidst political fights about defense funding for the southern border, restrictions on transgender individuals in the military and a bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s support for conflict in Yemen, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan will attempt to keep the focus on the growing threat from China during a budget hearing March 14.
 
SECDEF: Charging allies to house U.S. troops, plus 50 percent surcharge, isn’t happening –
Asked by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, about whether the plan, first reported as under consideration by Bloomberg, would risk “driving our allies away from us,” Shanahan insisted that the reporting was “erroneous.”
 
 

Business

Boeing resumes KC-46 tanker deliveries, but Air Force scrutiny will linger –
The U.S. Air Force has begun accepting KC-46 tankers from Boeing, but the service’s top weapons buyer says it will remain vigilant for problems emerging from the company’s production line.
 
QinetiQ wins U.S. Army’s small ground robot competition –
The U.S. Army has chosen Waltham, Mass.,-based QinetiQ North America to produce its new small ground robot following a head-to-head competition with the company’s Boston-based neighbor Endeavor Robotics.
 
Army plans to stop building newest CH-47 variant in FY20, except for special ops –
U.S. Army is planning to stop procuring the newest version of the CH-47 F-model Chinook for the conventional force after fiscal year 2020, closing out the program at the end of the engineering and manufacturing development phase.
 
 

Defense

About 21,000 troops booted so far under ‘deploy or get out’ policy –
About 21,000 nondeployable troops have been forced out of the ranks since the Defense Department’s “deploy or get out” policy began last summer, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on March 14.
 
Pentagon wants to test a space-based weapon in 2023 –
Defense officials want to test a neutral particle-beam in orbit in fiscal 2023 as part of a ramped-up effort to explore various types of space-based weaponry.
 
Consolidation of commissaries, exchange stores gains Pentagon support –
A key Defense Department office is now recommending that the military’s exchange stores and commissary system be consolidated into one entity, with merger planning already under way.
 
Top Pentagon officials say Google work is ‘benefiting the Chinese military’ –
Top defense officials on March 14 blasted Google for its work in China, saying that the company’s efforts are serving the interests of the U.S. adversary.
 
After 2018’s recruiting shortfall, it will take a lot longer to build the Army to 500K –
After a Herculean effort to get the active-duty force up to 476,000 in 2017, the Army hit a stall in 2018: Tasked to grow by another 7,500 troops, the service ended up breaking even.
 
A classified Pentagon maritime drone program is about to get its moment in the sun –
A project birthed in the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office is getting some serious buy-in from the U.S. Navy, and could yield the world’s first large-scale armed unmanned warship.
 
Poseidons, Clippers not impacted by Boeing 737 grounding, Navy says –
U.S. Navy aircraft based on Boeing 737 jetliner designs are not affected by the grounding of civilian planes, a Naval Air Forces spokesman said March 14.
 
Propeller cracking fears led Air Force to ground 60 C-130Hs aircraft, and replace pre-1971 blades –
The Air Force in February grounded 60 C-130H Hercules aircraft after a review found their pre-1971 propeller blades could be susceptible to dangerous cracking and needed to be replaced.
 
Top Marine to fight for more amphibs after Navy budget leaves them out –
The Navy’s 2020 budget has more ship-building funds than the service has seen in decades, but it also cuts money for the vessels that bring Marines to the fight.
 
 

Veterans

This VA report touts ‘positive outcomes’ from its suicide prevention programs — but veteran suicide rates haven’t slowed –
A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of its suicide prevention programs touted mostly “positive outcomes” of the efforts even though they didn’t translate into fewer veterans dying by their own hand.
 
Could putting college students in VA hospitals help widespread staffing shortage? –
Imagine a world where more civilians knew about veterans’ health issues and were trained early on to be doctors, health professionals, and even advocates for the wellbeing of military service members.
 
New legislation seeks to provide staff, funding, research to help prevent veteran suicide –
Legislation introduced in the Senate this week aims to tackle the nation’s veteran suicide epidemic by boosting funding, mental health staff, alternative therapies and research at the Department of Veterans Affairs.