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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/24/2018 09:37:27

Good Morning.

Heading right into the news cycle, it looks like Mr. Trump's next nominee to be secretary of Veteran's Affairs may be dead on arrival. The Republican-led Senate has postponed any such hearings until such time the nominee's position on privatization have been made clear.

Senate lawmakers have postponed the confirmation hearing for Ronny L. Jackson, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, after top Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about his qualifications and oversight of the White House medical staff, White House and other administration officials were told Monday.

The development came just two days before Jackson, the White House physician, was scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and threw what was looking to be a difficult confirmation process into further jeopardy.

In addition to Jackson’s lack of management experience, the former combat surgeon had come under fire for his glowing appraisal of Trump’s health following his annual physical in January. Jackson said then that the president might live to the age of 200 with a healthier diet. In recent days, fresh concerns arose about Jackson’s management of the White House medical office, said the officials, who declined to provide details.

“I can tell you we’re vetting out Jackson,” said Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. “I can’t get into specifics, but we’re doing our job to make sure he’s fit for the job.”

Aides to committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) declined to comment.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), another committee member, said he had raised concerns about Jackson’s lack of management background to the White House and requested to speak with Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on the matter.

“This job is so difficult,” Moran said Monday. “Nothing about this is easy, and it takes a very unique person to be able to lead an organization that is so difficult to lead, and I need to be convinced that’s the case regardless of the sense of his experience.”

Why yes, Senator. As we all know from Buzzfeed, adulting IS hard.

Changing gears...as you know, we have an all-volunteer force here in the United States. Recruiting is often cyclical, and goes up and down in a completely unpredictable pattern. Not surprisingly, due to our perpetual wars, recruiting has been declining and the Army is expecting a shortfall this year.

The Army will fall short of its recruiting goals this year but eventually wants to have a force of 500,000 active duty troops, Army Secretary Mark Esper said Friday.

The Army had sought to recruit 80,000 troops this year, a major increase over the 69,000 brought into the service last year, but has now lowered the goal to 76,500 new troops, Esper and Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey said at an off-camera session with Pentagon reporters.

Esper and Dailey attributed the shortfall to a number of factors, including the improving economy and the low unemployment rate that has private employers competing for new hires.

"The strong economy does make it challenging," Esper said.

Esper said the current goal was to increase the strength of the active duty force to 483,500 but said he expected the force would have to grow to 500,000 to decrease the operational tempo that "sees our soldiers on this hamster wheel" of deployment after deployment with little time at home.

However, "we're not going to sacrifice quality for quantity" in recruiting, Esper said.

About 95 percent of recruits now are at least high school graduates, Esper said, and the number of so-called "Category 4" troops -- those with low scores on the aptitude test -- was about four percent. Esper said the goal was to reduce the number of Category 4 troops to two percent.

Although the Army will fall short of the recruitment goal of 80,000, retention rates saw major increases, going up from 81 percent to 86 percent, Dailey said.

Finally today - briefly revisiting our old 'Cost of War' segment, here's what $62 billion will buy you these days.

The U.S. Air Force is investigating what caused two F-22 Raptors from the same Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, unit to experience mishaps within days of each other.

An F-22 from the 90th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing, experienced engine failure April 6 during a routine training flight at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, days before another F-22's belly skid at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, Air Force officials told Military.com on Friday.

"We can confirm that a 3 WG F-22, assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron, recently experienced an in-flight engine failure while operating out of Tyndall. The aircraft was able to land safely," said 2nd Lt. Brigitte Brantley, a public affairs officer for the 673rd Air Base Wing. The Drive website first reported the engine failure last week.

Brantley said the pilot in the Tyndall accident was unhurt and able to land the twin-engine stealth fighter "without further incident."

No other aircraft were damaged during the landing.

Ah, but of course there is a bonus click. Since we are ostensibly a veteran's column...sometimes my av-dorkery leads me to focus on hardware, where of course there is always a service member at risk.

For the better part of my 15-year marriage to an Air Force pilot, I kissed my husband goodbye as he walked out the door in his green flight suit worn in garrison and smashed down any concern that something bad could happen to him. He spent his days and nights flying touch-and-go's, pilot proficiency flights, and other local sorties; checking boxes for currency in emergency procedures, tactical approaches, instrument ratings, and a gazillion other odds and ends to keep him and his crew safe when the environment was inhospitable.

I saved my fear for deployments, when he wore the beige desert flight suit, and his tactical training, range exercises, mission rehearsals and Visual Threat Recognition and Avoidance Trainer (VTRAT) would be needed to get through a long mission. I would hope his emergency procedure training was so ingrained, and his reflexes so quick, that even being shot at couldn't keep him from landing with a damaged engine, failed instrument, or degraded flight control.

As my husband trained late in to the night at his permanent duty station, I lay in bed, listening to the flight patterns overhead, locally known as "the sound of freedom," and slept soundly knowing he would walk in at the end of his flight, smelling like hydraulic fluid and the weird flame retardant fabric of his flight suit.

Yet, in the last few weeks, there have been six aviation crashes with 16 lost service members. Four of those crashes happened on training missions in the U.S. While the exact causes of the two accidents overseas is still unknown, there is no initial reporting connecting them to hostile acts.

Now, my gut has a visceral response, and I think, "This is not how you are supposed to lose a service member."

Training fatalities are always a possibility. Accidents happen; on the way to work, at work, on the way home, in your driveway. Military service is inherently dangerous. However, the looming growth, in this case, of aviation accidents is a stain on the world's most capable military.

According to Military Times, manned war plane accidents are up 40 percent since across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration went into effect in 2013. That was when Congress, unable to agree on a way to balance the budget after 12 years of investment in combat on two fronts and a growing pool of entitlements for the largest generation of retirees yet, implemented a law that cut everything. Slowly, the effects are showing.

Have decreased flight hours, pilot shortages, reduced funding for equipment maintenance and upgrades, and sparser training opportunities increased the lethality of friendly skies (or waters, or ranges)?


27 comments (Latest Comment: 04/24/2018 18:32:02 by Raine)
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