Headlines – December 21, 2018

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Troops to immediately withdraw from Syria as Trump declares victory over ISIS –
The Trump administration has ordered an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, and it remains unclear whether any troops will remain on the ground there.
 
Trump’s Syria withdrawal flies in the face of statements from top military and national security leaders –
President Donald Trump’s reported call for a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria comes in stark contrast to statements by his own national security adviser, military leaders, members of Congress and the larger strategic aims laid out to aid Kurdish forces, and counter both Iranian and Russian influence.
 
Afghan Taliban, U.S. conclude marathon peace talks arranged by Pakistan –
The United States and the Taliban have concluded two days of marathon peace talks in the United Arab Emirates, promising to meet again in the Gulf country for another round “to complete the Afghanistan reconciliation process.”
 
 

Business

U.S., Turkey take key step toward Patriot missile deal –
The United States on Dec. 18 approved a tentative $3.5 billion sale to Turkey of Raytheon’s Patriot surface-to-air missile system, in a potential breakthrough that could pave the way for smoother Turkey-NATO relations after a tumultuous few years.
 
Round two: Pentagon tries again on progress payments for industry –
After an attempt failed in October to change how the Pentagon awards payments to industry, the department’s top acquisition official is ready to try again.
 
U.S. State Department clears $3.5B sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey –
The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $3.5 billion sale of Patriot air and missile defense systems to Turkey, the Pentagon said on Dec. 18 after notifying Congress of the certification.
 
Civilians are cheaper than contractors for most defense jobs, internal report finds –
Most jobs in the Defense Department are cheaper with civilian employees as compared to contractors, according to an internal Pentagon report, though the cost comparisons differ based on location, pay grade and job function.
 
Japan seeks drones, subs, F-35 jets as part of $243 billion defense-spending plan –
Japan intends to procure more F-35 fighter jets, shipborne unmanned aircraft and submarines, according to newly released midterm defense guidelines and an associated defense plan.
 
 

Defense

Defying critics, Trump again suggests military troops should build the border wall –
President Donald Trump on Dec. 19 again stated he will have U.S. troops build his controversial border wall with Mexico if Democrats refuse to fund the project through traditional means, ignoring weeks of controversy over whether such a move is even possible.
 
U.S. Navy planning for gray-zone conflict; finalizing distributed maritime operations for high-end fight –
The Navy has a good idea of how to fight a high-end war, but how to handle aggression short of conflict will take some more thought.
 
Marine aviation bonus ‘take rates’ are high, but pilot shortage likely to linger into 2023 –
A recent government report said that the Navy and Corps’ pilot shortage likely is to carry into 2023.
 
 

Veterans

With deadline looming, lawmakers worry about new VA community care rules –
Department of Veterans Affairs officials have less than six months to put in place sweeping new rules governing how and when veterans can get taxpayer-funded medical care in their community.
 
Senate passes last-minute effort to hold VA accountable for GI Bill screw-ups –
After a tumultuous fall semester of inaccurate housing stipends for thousands of Post-9/11 GI Bill students, the Senate has passed a bill to hold the Veterans Affairs Department responsible for retroactively fixing these mistakes.

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