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May 21, 2014

News Briefs May 21, 2014

Russian army readies return from Ukrainian border

The Russian Defense Ministry says its units in the western regions bordering Ukraine are preparing for a journey to their home bases in line with President Vladimir Putin’s order.

Putin ordered the withdrawal May 19 in what could be an attempt to ease tensions with the West over Ukraine. Putin’s order appears to go further than his claim two weeks ago that troops were being pulled back from the border to shooting ranges.

The U.S. and NATO, which estimates that Russia has 40,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, said they saw no immediate sign of a pullout after Putin’s claim.

The Defense Ministry said May 20 that its forces in the Bryansk, Belgorod and Rostov regions are dismantling their summer camps in preparation for a march to their home bases. AP

U.S. Military: Buildup will boost Guam revenue

relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, will boost Guam’s revenue by at least $37 million a year, defense officials say.
That’s enough to more than double the size of Guam’s police force, the Pacific Daily News reported.

The money will come from income taxes paid by 5,000 Marines who will move to Guam, the Joint Guam Program Office said. The federal government remits service member income taxes to the territory in a lump sum each year.

Maj. Darren Alvarez, deputy director of Joint Guam Program Office-Forward, said this income tax revenue will peak at $62 million in 2021.

The grassroots organization We Are Guahan said the military isn’t paying to help Guam cope with the effects of the buildup.
Attorney Leevin Camacho, of We Are Guahan, said income tax revenue from the Marines shouldn’t be seen as mitigation for the social impacts.

If the buildup adversely impacts public schools, the local firefighting force, the local hospital and other social service functions or entities, the Defense Department should pay for the impact of the buildup on those specific service providers, Camacho said.

Gov. Eddie Calvo’s office said it’s not accurate to say the Defense Department pays nothing for the social impacts of the buildup.

The Port Authority of Guam in 2010 received $50 million from the Defense Department, and it has started to use the money to upgrade its facilities to accommodate increased cargo.

Congress also has authorized $106 million for Guam Waterworks Authority, mostly for wastewater plant upgrades.

The military is paying for some road improvements. There also is $12 million for a cultural repository and $13 million for a public health lab. AP

VA whistleblower: I was suspended for two weeks

A Veterans Affairs whistleblower says she was put on unpaid leave after she refused to falsify appointment records at a Colorado clinic.

Former Navy reservist Lisa Lee told the Coloradoan that she and another scheduler were transferred from the Fort Collins clinic in March 2013 for refusing to hide the wait time for appointments. She said she was suspended for two weeks after filing an internal grievance about the transfer and scheduling practices.

Lee’s complaint led to an investigation which found that clinic workers at were told to make their records show that veterans got appointments within 14 days of the day requested, whether or not it was true.

Lee is now on active duty in Hawaii.

The VA says it’s looking into Lee’s allegations and couldn’t immediately comment. AP

Pratt & Whitney cites strong jet engine backlog

The investment by United Technologies Corp. in its energy-efficient, quieter jet engines is paying off with a sizable order backlog for Pratt & Whitney, the subsidiary’s president said May 20.

Paul Adams, who took over as president of Pratt & Whitney early this year, said at the Connecticut-based company’s annual media day Tuesday that it has a backlog of more than 5,500 geared turbofan engines, which he called extremely strong.

It really shows that the market has greatly accepted the technology and value … and positions us for growth as we go forward, he said.

United Technologies spent $1 billion over 20 years to develop the engine that some analysts have said was critical to Pratt & Whitney’s success.

Adams also said the outlook for sales of military joint strike fighter jet engines is strong despite pressure on Pentagon spending. Another factor is the 2011 Air Force contract to Boeing to build airborne refueling tankers that benefits Pratt & Whitney, he said.

He said revenue is expected to double to about $29 billion in 10 years. That’s in keeping with previous guidance.

Military spending hews to a deficit-driven, bipartisan budget agreement after two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawmakers have cut the budget for operations and maintenance by $1.4 billion to cover the cost of favored ships and planes.

Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney’s military engines business, said in an interview that despite pressure to reduce Pentagon spending, aging weapons systems such as tankers and fighters will need to be replaced.

With budgets coming down, there’s a real need to recapitalize, he said.
AP




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Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

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