Headlines – March 18, 2020

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Iraqi officials say rockets strike Baghdad’s Green Zone-
At least three rockets struck Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone near the American Embassy late March 17, a day after an attack on a training base south of Baghdad where U.S.-led coalition troops and NATO trainers were present, Iraqi security officials said. It was the fourth such attack in the span of a week.
 
U.S. hands over base to Iraqi forces in area known to be a hotbed for Iran-backed militia-
The U.S. military announced March 17 it had handed over a strategic outpost near the Iraq-Syria border to Iraqi forces in a region known to host an Iran-backed militia responsible for more than a dozen rocket attacks targeting coalition troops.
 
 

Coronavirus

China Is Avoiding Blame by Trolling the World-
The evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own country and its own citizens but also the more than 100 nations now facing their own potentially devastating outbreaks.
 
U.S. military is sending breathing masks, ventilators to civilian hospitals-
While the Department of Defense and civilian public health officials discuss what troops might be able to do to help treat and combat the spread of coronavirus, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced March 17 that the military will open up its stockpile of medical supplies to back up civilian public health agencies bracing for an outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated could affect more than 100 million Americans.
 
Two more sailors on board warships have the coronavirus-
Sailors assigned to warships homeported in San Diego and Everett, Washington, tested positive for the new strain of coronovirus, bringing to three the number of known cases tied to Navy surface vessels.
 
Trump’s $46B coronavirus aid request includes $8B for DOD-
The White House submitted an emergency funding request to Congress late March 17 for an added $45.8 billion, with $8.3 billion in it for the Defense Department?all to address the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Congressional chairmen hope COVID-19 won’t derail defense policy bill-
Though Congress is taking steps to protect lawmakers from the new coronavirus and promote social distancing, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee plans to hold its markup of the annual defense bill ? usually a hearing with more than 100 people in attendance ? on schedule next month.
 
 

Business

Trump: Boeing could get financial bailout for coronavirus-
The U.S. government is considering providing financial assistance for Boeing in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump said March 17.
 
BAE nabs next-gen seeker design work for U.S. Army’s missile defense system-
Lockheed Martin, which builds the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon system for the U.S. Army, has awarded BAE Systems a contract to design and manufacture a next-generation seeker for the system’s interceptors, according to a BAE announcement posted March 17.
 
Raytheon plows ahead to build U.S. Army’s future radar-
The first antenna array for the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor passed through initial testing at Raytheon’s Massachusetts-based facility, and it will embark on future testing at an outdoor range in the short term, a company official told Defense News.
 
As coronavirus rages, Italian F-35 plant to reopen after precautionary cleaning-
The F-35 final assembly and check out plant in Cameri, Italy, will reopen March 18 after a two day temporary shutdown meant to help prevent coronavirus.
 
FVL: Bell, Sikorsky-Boeing split $181M to finalize FLRAA designs-
A Sikorsky-Boeing team won a $97 million award to refine their SB>1 Defiant high-speed helicopter over the next two years, the Army announced today, while Bell Textron won $84 million for its V-280 Valor tiltrotor. The two designs are vying to replace the Reagan-era UH-60 Black Hawk, the Army’s workhorse air assault and medevac transport.
 
 

Defense

AFRICOM predicts mission training Somalia’s ‘Lightning Brigade’ will last until 2027-
U.S. Africa Command isn’t expecting its mission to build up Somalia’s Danab Advance Infantry Brigade to end anytime soon.
 
U.S. Army ventures down path to electrify the brigade-
The U.S. Army is seeking to power its brigades using electric and hybrid sources in order to break free of the burden of fuel and disposable batteries that bog down its logistics tail and limit mobility and reach, a general with Army Futures Command has told Defense News.
 
U.S. Army battles skepticism in Congress after Bradley replacement failure-
The U.S. Army has received praise for its innovative approach to modernizing the force through its new four-star command, which reached full operational capability earlier this year.
 
Cost of upgrading Arleigh Burke destroyers may not be worth it, says U.S. Navy-
The U.S. Navy is backing away from the idea of a classwide service-life extension project for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, but is leaving open the possibility to upgrade some of its workhorse surface combatant.
 
 

Veterans

VA eyes $16 billion-plus in emergency funds to help with coronavirus response-
Department of Veterans Affairs leaders are preparing to request more than $16 billion in new funding to help the sprawling medical system respond to the continued coronavirus threat, according to multiple congressional officials involved in the matter.
 
Emergency fix for GI Bill payouts at colleges shuttered by coronavirus advances, but final passage uncertain-
The Senate on March 16 rushed through emergency legislation to help tens of thousands of student veterans whose GI Bill benefits could be disrupted in coming weeks, but the fate of the measure in the House remains unclear.
 
VA’s mission to see civilian patients in times of crisis vanished from its website-
The Department of Veterans Affairs serves as a backup health system in times of crisis, but its mission statement for this crucial role was deleted from the agency’s website March 13 as many in the country grew concerned that the coronavirus could overload civilian hospitals.
 
 
 

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