1. DoD Budget Cuts Jeopardize Readiness
In remarks at the Defense Communities 2014 National Summit Wednesday, Pentagon officials described how force structure reductions will impact the Defense Department and industry partners amid ongoing budget woes and sequestration.
Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Alan F. Estevez and Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment John Conger warned that a lack of modernization and procurement investments could shrink the industrial base and jeopardize readiness.
"We're struggling to get ourselves in the balance but one of the ways to get in balance is to divest ourselves of unneeded infrastructure," Estevez said. "The dialogue has to start if you want to have that national security military force that this nation deserves."
Meanwhile, Estevez said the department is driving its own efficiencies internally, but certain cuts such as a projected 15 percent procurement paring could jeopardize the force's technological superiority over time, particularly in terms of the DOD's ties to the industrial base.
"We're very concerned about what happens with our industrial base in this environment because the Department of Defense does its own [research, development, test and evaluation], but we rely on industry as well," Estevez said.
DoD officials will also review the services acquisition process, Estevez noted. "We spend $360 billion a year to acquire things and services, and services is about $180 billion of that spend," he said.
He explained that while there is an elaborately structured process designed around buying things such as aircraft, satellites and other equipment, services has historically been less defined as it relates to the DOD.
"We're trying to put some rigor around services," Estevez said. "We're looking at what's the best tradecraft in maintenance, internet technology, and engineering and putting it all into practice."
Even savings of ten percent in such areas could yield billions in savings, he added.
Conger insists that sequestration and its associated rigors is "the new normal" and while the conversation about base realignment and closure continues, it should not end there.
"We think saving money is an important thing to do, but BRAC isn't going to solve our problems like some magic ball," Conger said. "We have budget problems and we're going to have to look for efficiencies."
2. 70th Anniversary of D-Day Invasion
Seventy years after Allied forces broke through the Atlantic Wall and began the end of Hitler's grip on Europe, a new Normandy invasion is now under way.
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger and American Legion Auxiliary President Nancy Brown-Park are among tens of thousands from around the world who have descended on northwestern France this week to honor those who fought in the pivotal battle of the European theater in World War II. The June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of northern France began an 11-month campaign that ended Nazi Germany.
"We all owe our freedom to those who answered the call during World War II," Dellinger said after presenting a memorial wreath June 5 at the Normandy American Cemetery. "It's inspiring to come to this part of the world and see how many local people truly understand that debt and appreciate it. It is inspiring, and it is humbling, especially to be here among some of the veterans of the invasion."
During the events, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe joined the residents of this town here yesterday to honor World War II veterans and pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the D-Day landings.
Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, also commander of U.S. European Command, participated in several events commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day operations conducted by allied forces during World War II from June 5 to June 6, 1944.
Speaking during an evening dinner with Carentan Mayor Jean-Pierre, allied troops, World War II veterans and local residents, Breedlove expressed his gratitude in learning more about D-Day.
"I am proud and humbled to be here with you as we honor the fallen, praise the action of our heroes from the greatest generation, and renew our commitment to our transatlantic bond," he said. "We are here because of each other."
Breedlove added, "It's been a true joy to have met and interacted with all of you throughout the day, especially with our veterans and their families."
3. Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission
- The MCRMC continues to hold meetings throughout the country. Below is a list of upcoming hearings:
June 25-26, 2014 - Fort Bragg, NC
July 23-24, 2014 - Executive Session, Arlington, VA
The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission was established to conduct a review of military compensation and retirement systems and to make recommendations to modernize such systems. The Commission is tasked to submit a report, containing a comprehensive study and recommendations this month to the President of the United States and Congress. The report will contain detailed findings and conclusions of the Commission, together with its recommendations for such legislation and administrative actions it may consider appropriate in light of the results of the study.
4. POW/MIA Update
Army Pfc. James R. Holmes, 18, of Warren, Ohio, was buried on May 29, in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C. In November 1950, Holmes was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, which was pushing north through North Korea to the Yalu River. In late November the unit was attacked by enemy forces and withdrew south to the town of Anju. On December 1, Holmes was declared missing in action.
As part of a 1953 prisoner exchange known as Operation Big Switch, returning U.S. service members reported that Holmes had been captured by the Chinese during that battle and died in 1951, in prisoner of war camp known as Camp 5, near Pyoktong, North Korea.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain 350 - 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents turned over with some of the boxes indicated that some of the remains were recovered from Pyoktong County, near the area where Holmes was believed to have died.
To identify Holmes' remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched his sister and brother.
Today, 7,883 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.