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The full House passed the FY2007 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 5122) on May 11.
The bill recommended by the Armed Services Committee authorizes $512.9 billion dollars for national security and weapon programs, $50 billion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a 2.7% pay raise for Active Duty troops.
With strict limits on amendments and debate, the House adopted only a few modifications to the Armed Services Committee-passed bill. Here's a partial listing of key Amendments:
SBP Transfer Date. Changes the effective date for surviving spouses to elect optional transfer of their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity payments to their child(ren) to the start of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Previously, SBP transfers were limited to deaths after November 23, 2003. Surviving spouses who elect to transfer SBP preserve full entitlement to VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation payments.
Garnishment of Overpayments. Limits the garnishment of a servicememember's paycheck to no more than 20% in a single pay period for overpayments not the fault of the member; establishes a 90-day grace period before overpay recovery can be initiated for wounded/ill servicemembers.
Study of Army Tour Length. Requires the Army to study the potential benefits of converting from 12 to 6-month deployments in connection with service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reserve Assignment Pay. Requires the Army to submit a report examining possible pay inequity in its Assignment Incentive Pay system for Guardsman and Reservists.
Bataan Death March. Authorizes compensation to any veteran who was captured on the peninsula of Bataan or the island of Corregidor and survived the Bataan Death March.
However, they left some pretty big issues unaddressed...including a $735 million hole for the Defense Health Program... in the extended read
House Panel Nixes Edwards' Defense Health Funding Amendment
With passage of the FY2007 Military Quality of Life Appropriations bill this week, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) dug a $735 million hole for the Defense Health Program (DHP) by rejecting Rep. Chet Edward's (D-TX) Amendment. MOAA strongly backed it to overcome lost revenue from proposed TRICARE fee increases. The issue could be resolved in conference if the Senate takes up the DHP funding gap. But the HAC did vote to restore $800 million for the VA health care account to make up for cancelled VA health system enrollment fees for lowest priority veterans.
Other highlights of the FY2007 MQLA include:All done!
Funds VA Medical Services at $25,412,000,000, $2.6 billion above last year's level, but $100 million below the President's request.
Rejects - for the fourth year in a row - VA enrollment fees for certain non-disabled veterans
Funds total military construction at $6.6 billion -- $5.6 billion for active duty construction and $1.0 billion for reserve components -- and funds $4.0 billion for family housing construction.
Increases the defense health program by $1 billion over last year to $21 billion and directs DoD to initiate mandatory programs on mental health screening and counseling into daily activities of service members.
Funds base realignment and closure activities at $5.5 billion and urges DoD to actively assist local schools and communities impacted by BRAC and global rebasing.
Directs DoD to report on the feasibility of creating a unified medical command structure for the Department's three health systems.
Someone has posted a scanned copy of what appears to be a DD-214 for one Jesse Adam MacBeth. My initial read of it tells me that he most likely dropped out of boot camp.
Blocks 11 and 13 appear to have been crudely "modified" after the fact.
Block 11 reads as follows:
11 bravo -- 0 years - 6
Ranger qualifyed -- 2 years - 3
Block 13 reads:
Purple heart// Shot during active service
Operation Enduring freedom//Operation Iraqi Freedom
I'm reasonably certain that these blocks have been forged (different type setting, not faded, etc.), but I'll leave it up to the experts to make a final determination on that. They certainly appear to be inconsistent with several other blocks of the document, including Block 8a, which lists his last duty station as "BCTB 2D BN 47THIN CO D TR TC." I'm pretty sure that is one of the recruit training battalions at Ft. Benning.
I won't comment on the vulgar graffitti.
UPDATE: Block 26 (SEPERATION CODE) reads "JGA." This code corresponds to "Entry level status performance and conduct or entry level status performance - pregnancy."
Since we can safely assume that MacBeth wasn't pregnant, the only reasonable conclusion is that he was, in fact, a boot camp washout.
And yes, forging a DD-214 is a federal crime.
UPDATE 2: MacBeth was discharged from the 2d Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, of the Basic Combat Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In other words, he didn't even make it through boot camp, much less Ranger School.
UPDATE 3: Block 12 is very difficult to read, but it appears that MacBeth's net active duty service in the Army was 1 month and 13 days, from May 1 to June 13, 2003.
Image after the jump.
Looks like these clowns are moving foward with the offending issue, at their own legal peril I might add.
Link has a comments section too. Just sayin'....
I wrote my Memorial Day blog and it contained a reference to SFC David Salie who was killed on Valentine's Day 2005, and how his widow Deedy continued to be an influence for her husband's men and other military families... A reader posted up this comment which I have passed to Deedy and their children.
Julie- Proud Parent said... Thank you for this post. Yes, I did need the tissues! I work in a military hospital on Ft Carson, Colorado and I plan to share this with my co workers and as many people as I can. My family too, is a 3rd ID family and SFC Salie was my sons platoon SGT. I believe that my son is still alive today because of the teachings of that wonderful Hero! We are proud of his wife and family for still being there for not only his soldiers but their families as well.
Sometimes, I'm really glad I blog...
Patriot Files gives us the HALL OF HEROES... it's certainly worth a look and a read...
Many people have become aware of a recent serious photo copyright infringement. The photo in question is that of Major Bieger holding a little Iraqi girl named Farah who was killed by a suicide car bomber in Mosul, Iraq. I first became aware of the infringement when stunned and angry readers contacted me under the mistaken belief that I allowed SHOCK magazine to use it on their cover. I did not, and never would have agreed to their usage. I regularly turn down usage requests for this photo – uses that could earn money – because this photo is sacred to me and is representative of the U.S. soldiers I have come to know. It is also representative of the horrors of the enemy we all face.
My attorneys are in discussions with those at fault, and we have demanded that all copies of the magazine be removed from circulation and from the internet.
Protecting this photo has become at times a full-time job. I am in Washington D.C. in my attorneys’ offices when I should be finishing two important dispatches on Afghanistan, and my book about our soldiers in Iraq and their families at home.
This is a legal matter and my attorneys will be speaking for me now. If necessary I will write about this dispute.
Commenter "Bullnav" asks if I got to see the Elevated Causeway System (ELCAS) in action during JLOTS 2005. We didn't have an ELCAS for that exercise, but I did get to see the one at Camp Patriot in Kuwait back in 2003.
Eagle1 points to this April 2003 article on the Camp Patriot ELCAS:
Construction began April 1, and the now completed 1,400-foot pier was completed April 18. Amongst busy beaches and real-estate limited spaces, the 48-person per shift crew was hampered by equipment and weather delays, but the "combined can-do Gator Bee" team completed their work three days ahead of schedule in mid-April.
With a 3,000-foot pier-length capability and a 24-foot wide roadway, the ELCAS(M) features two 175-ton cranes, two tractor trailer turntables and lighting for 24-hour operation capabilities.
The pier is structurally supported by 24-inch steel piles that come in 30-foot-long pieces. These piles are welded together, then driven into the ocean floor until they reach a sufficient depth to support the bearing capacity.
They only took eighteen days to construct a 1,400 foot pier!
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."
-- George Patton
Which, I suppose, is why it's not called Mournful Day.
And why this seems like a fine idea.
This week's podcast includes a search for the morals (in the sense of Aesop) of the Jesse MacBeth story.
Among NRO's 50 greatest conservative rock songs: “I Can’t Drive 55,” by Sammy Hagar.
I must be a conservative, because one of the things I'll miss most about Germany is the unrestricted speed limit on the autobahn.
"The 55 mile speed limit really does lower gas usage, and wherever it can be required and that people will accept it, we ought to do it," Clinton said.Maybe the Dixie Chicks can do a song about that.
Jesse MacBeth: Army Ranger, Special Forces, and a Navy SEAL!
Is there anything this guy can't do?
MORE: The film's producer, Pepperspray Productions, has pulled the video from their site.
I took part in a joint military exercise (JLOTS / Turbo CADS / Seahawk 2005) last August that tested this concept in a "semi-permissive environment." In our scenario, the tsunami-damaged port was unable to accomodate the relief ships pierside, so they were forced to anchor out in the harbor. Supplies were unloaded by crane onto barges and landing craft. My unit's role in this exercise was to provide security for the relief ships against seaborne terrorist attack. We also worked with the SeaBees and some National Guard units to provide a secure perimeter around the military camp and port facilities.
When a natural disaster cuts the roads, maritime delivery of relief supplies is often the only way to go. You can't break the ocean, after all.
So says Tigerhawk. What's the difference between Jessica Lynch and Leigh Ann Hester? Tigerhawk lays it out.
Or all of the above?
Our friends at Protest Warrior send word that the anti-war punk who gained illegal access to the ProtestWarrior server, stealing thousands of credit card numbers in order to commit massive credit card fraud, has been indicted.
Gunshots, not political cheap shots. Those wouldn't be news.
"They said they heard gunfire in the Rayburn garage, but this is a huge building, I'm guessing it's a car backfiring or balloons popping," Gene Smith, chief of staff to Rep. Howard Berman, D-California, told The Associated Press. Berman has an office in Rayburn.The buildings do have metal detectors, after all.
Wonder who will "break" the conclusion of the story first?
So, the Mayor of New York wants to create a national DNA/Fingerprint database with a simple purpose. If you want to be an employee of anything, anywhere, you have to be in the db with what amounts to a worker's permit. Don't want to be in the db? No worries. But you can't have a job. Anywhere.
Uh-huh. I'm sure the rich will just by runnin' out and checking those documents of their nannies, gardeners, etc. And all those middle class homeowners will be carding the kids who mow their lawns, and the handymen who do the odd remodeling work. Spare me.
Oh, and this will all be run by the same Federal Government that just lost control of the sensitive information of 26.5 million veterans, including yours truly.
Color me unimpressed, Mr. Mayor.
Strategypage on the Baath Party in Iraq:
American intelligence believes that Sunni Arab unity is increasingly falling apart. Most Sunni Arabs do not support Baath, and more and more of them are willing to take up arms against Baath. There is a growing split between Baath and al Qaeda. But Baath still has all those desperate, wealthy, men who have money, weapons, and nothing to lose.
As "Hurricane Season" begins (and I guess it's always "Earthquake Season"), it's time to think about disaster logistics... and some people have been doing so-
as noted here.
"Relief Over the Shore" makes for a terrible acronym, though
Somewhat off the Military topic list, but can anyone explain why three US ISP's are hosting Palestinian Islamic Jihad sites?
Directly from the Department of State's Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) list (see member #30):
Legal Ramifications of Designation
1. It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. � 2339A(b)(1) as "any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. � 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. � 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’’
Enough already. Enough. If the US firms are unaware, make them so. If They are aware and refuse under some inane defense encompassing 'free speech', educate them on the Rule of Law.
Free speech is not free, nor is it devoid of responsibility.
Four days, four posts. What Memorial Day really means to one military family.
"I am telling you, Pervez, you simply must read this stuff!"
News round-up from Afghanistan posted here.
An expression of the opinion of a soldier in camp from that collection reminds us that we aren't that different from our forebearers:
He says he likes it first rate and he may as well like it as not like it for they don't ask a fellow down here whether they like it or not.I can't help but suppose that sentiment has been distilled over the years into this response to a common greeting:
First person: "Hi, how are you?"
Second: "Oh, can't complain."
To which a specific response is expected from the first.
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
It's never the wrong time for Congress to debate issues of national importance. They may take on one such effort soon:
WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders, in a significant political gamble, are planning to hold a free-flowing debate over the Iraq war on the House floor in coming weeks, facing head-on what may be the most difficult issue to threaten pro-war incumbents in the fall election.That should prove interesting - as should the media coverage it receives (if any). But the debate is not exactly new. Last July by a vote of 291-137 the House passed a measure declaring it was the "sense of Congress that early withdrawal from Iraq should be opposed". And in November the House rejected longtime hardline Democratic "anti-war" activist Jack Murtha's demand for immediate withdrawal from Iraq by a vote of 403-3.
"We are the people's house, and serious issues of the day ought to be debated here in the House," said House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). "And a lot of members on both sides of the aisle have concerns about where we are, what is going on. Others have concerns that the whole story in Iraq isn't being told in terms of all the good things that are happening there."
Regardless of public comments to the contrary, thus far, when it really mattered, House Democrats have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the US mission in Iraq. But in December Represetative Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, declared a plan to develop a position on Iraq within his Party: "As for Iraq policy, at the right time, we'll have a position."
Perhaps the time is now.
I visited the city of Tarmiya, just north of Baghdad, yesterday. For those of you who are interested in the human side of this war, I have some photos I hope you will enjoy.
Tarmiya, Iraq photo gallery
Your feedback is always welcome. No one shot at us while we were in town. No one blew anything up. People were cautiously friendly, and the kids, as usual, really enjoyed saying hello.
Callimachus at Winds of Change has a fine Memorial Day piece. It collects some fragments from letters he studied while writing a book on the American Civil War.
It doesn't take long to read, but it is worth reading.
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is finishing up her two month Caribbean cruise without invading Venezuela, as some had suspected they were planning:
“We did bring out a number of Venezuelan news media and citizens who went on our ships. … And that was very positive because President Chavez had been making allegations that simply were not true,” [GW CO, Capt.] White said.
“For example, he was alleging we were down there to do an invasion and we had thousands of Marines aboard,” he said, “but by having the Venezuela news media and other distinguished visitors aboard to do anything they wanted to do and go wherever, that dispelled a lot of the fallacies he was putting out.”
Our publicist informed me that I'll be doing Michael Reagan's radio program today (Friday, May 26th) at 7:30 p.m. EST. Also joining me will be LTC Mark Mitchell (aka Chapter 12 in Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror). LTC Mitchell is the first soldier since Vietnam to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Also, Cal Thomas gives Home of the Brave a gracious plug in his new Memorial Day column. You can read it here.
Many thanks, again, to Mr. and Mrs. GreyHawk for extending the invitation to blog about the book tour.
Thanks to my mother, our family learned early to honor those that serve. We attended Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans' Day parades in our town: some years we sat and cheered from the curbs as we waved our American flags, while in other years we were participants.
... the tears I shed on this and every Memorial Day will be hotter and will burn my cheeks deeper than in years past. The playing of “Taps” will stab at my heart and the National Anthem will never sound sweeter nor be more bittersweet. No, Memorial Day will never be the same. Not for me. Not for Noah and those that served and returned with him. Not for Deedy Salie and Robert Stokley and all the families of these fallen
Read the whole tribute...HERE.
You guys really need to see Gatorade's commercial on the US Soccer Team, and what they put up with playing abroad. Powerful stuff fellas.
I even posted the thing on Op For so Greyhawk wouldn't yell at me.
Just recieved this via email:
I have to admit to you that I am a big fan of The Gazette. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting the truth from those who are and who have been there. I can smell the MSM a mile away and the fragrence emanating from the Gazette and especially your new milblog site is rich with its (the MSM's) absence. Being a Viet Nam era vet that did not see combat and having a son who has recently returned to CONUS with the Marine 22nd MEU, I enjoy the refreshing discourse I find here.
I would like to contribute my two cents that will perhaps uncover some rather interesting info your readership might otherwise not know about ... I am an IT contractor by trade and my business enables me to work in many diverse corporate environments and meet many people. Some of my experiences have been rather forgettable, but I want to point out one that I'm sure your folks will be interested in.
One of my most recent clients was The Home Depot. Their corporate Store Support Center is in Atlanta just off the Perimeter Highway in Vinings, GA. It is a huge three building complex that is interconnected by a very long hallway on the ground floor. The very first day I arrived there to work a contract, I was struck by a very interesting, compelling site: half of that hallway was literally covered, from floor to ceiling, with little white flags, bordered in red, with a red star in the middle. I was told that each one of these flags represents an associate who is serving in the military fighting the Global War On Terror. After I got acquainted with some of my team members, I saw one of those flags on a cubicle wall and I asked the occupant about it. He had been in Iraq and had been back about 6 months or so -- he was an MP reservist in the Air Force. He confirmed what I had been told about these flags. I don't recall the entire conversation but from him and others I learned that The Home Depot cares very deeply for their associates and wants to take care of them and their families when they are called away to serve. First of all, they keep them on the payroll during their absence, and if there is any shortfall between their employee salary and what the military pays, Home Depot makes up the difference so that the family doesn't suffer economically. I may not be entirely accurate on this next point but I believe they even maintain medical benefits for the serviceman's family so they can continue to receive proper medical care.All done!
Can you imagine having an employer like that? I had never thought any company would do this for their people until I got to Home Depot. I decided right then and there, from that day forward, that they needed and deserved my patronage. If you think this is worthy of being posted on your website, please do so. I am no longer at Home Depot -- my contract ended last January -- but it is my firm opinion that this is the best company I have ever worked for. If I were given an offer to come on board as a permanent employee, I would consider myself fortunate. Until that day happens, I guess you could say I'm a big fan. They give a rip about what is happening in the GWOT, enough to support the troops by supporting their families while they are away.
So if you ever have a home improvement need, get it at a great toy store, The Home Depot. In a way you are supporting the troops by enabling Home Depot to support their associates who have been called to active duty.
BTW, this is totally unsolicited. I am receiving no compensation from them for sending you this. I just believe this is a story that needs to be told.
I would like to see the entire transcript of Alan Colmes' interview with John Murtha, just to verify that Murtha is not as nutty as these snippets seem to indicate.
Congressman Jack Murtha, D-Penn., said Wednesday night that the U.S. military was deliberately and indiscriminately killing innocent civilians in Iraq - much the same way, he added, that American pilots did during World War II.
Asked how the U.S. military could possibly be engaged in "purposely, indiscriminately killing innocent civilians," Murtha invoked U.S. air raids on Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan.
"In World War II we dropped bombs on all these different countries," he told Colmes. "We killed civilians. In wartime – this is wartime. You're not sitting in an office back here. This is wartime."
And if he is, I say we let the Greatest Generation deal with him.
Just finished listening to the Balir-Bush news conference.
Way back when I did my time in the sandbox, things were different.
Some crazy mujahadeen could kidnap American diplomats and get away with it.
Afghanistan was in flames, the total death toll must have exceeded 100,000 easy.
Iran and Iraq were in flames...total death toll well beyond 500,000 easy.
No need to mention the troubles in Lebanon,Egypt,Libya,Yemen,Uganda or half a dozen other countries.
Southwest Asia was never Utah or Iowa or Kansas. Southwest Asia was a place where even the most brutal dictators in the history of the world were afraid to travel thru certain neighborhoods.
We are winning the war of ballots over bullets. It's the ultimate Geneva Convention. The Ultimate Utopian Dream.
The death and destruction in Soutwest Asia is at it's lowest point in generations.
We are at least a generation from Southwest Asia being a Utah or Kansas.
A generation closer than when I served in the SandBox.All done!
I have a bone to pick with nearly everyone, myself included.
Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have official titles, and those titles have great meaning. I've been guilty of referring to Iraq as simply "the war" myself, but lately have made a greater effort at using the proper language.
Repeat after me:
Pay close attention to the last word in both titles, it's important. No, semantics won't change the circumstances on the ground, but they might remind our citizens why we're "over there." Sadly, too many people have forgotten.
As I was typing this post, President Bush, during a press conference with Tony Blair, said "The Iraq War". Can't Tony Snow step in and advise the Commander In Chief to start banging the "Operation Iraqi Freedom" drum?
Okay, I'm done now. Back to your regularly scheduled program.......