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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/02/2024 09:48:35

Good Morning.

Keeping it short and simple today.

More than 50 years after his service, Papa TriSec will soon be checking in on some benefits he is entitled to through the Veteran's Administration. Primarily on the health side - we're hoping that we can get him hooked up with some hearing aids once he lands over at Waltham Crossings. Even better than that, their Veteran's Coordinator is my oldest friend in Waltham. She's literally the first person I met in this city when I moved here in 1996.

In any case - I'm sure most of us are at least familiar with the wide array of benefits that GIs allegedly have. Like everything else related to budget measures, a popular benefit is about to be gutted.

The Army is eyeing a dramatic cut to the Army Credentialing Assistance program, or Army CA, next year to curb costs in what could be one of the biggest benefit shifts aimed at enlisted troops in years.

Army CA was introduced force-wide in 2020 as a complementary benefit to traditional scholarship programs. Instead of being intended to be used for college degrees, the program gave soldiers $4,000 per year, for civilian credentials -- such as qualifications in coding languages, cybersecurity, personal training, commercial driver's licenses and other skills that can help them in the civilian world or supplement their military career.

Now, the service is looking to reduce that benefit to $1,000 per year and never to exceed $4,000 across a career -- and those credentials must serve the soldier's job, meaning an infantryman may not be able to get certifications in cybersecurity fields -- reverting back to an earlier style of the benefit. That limited benefit would struggle to cover the costs of most quality civilian courses and licensing.

Those moves are still in planning stages, according to multiple sources directly familiar with the situation, and documents and internal emails reviewed by Military.com. The Army did not return multiple requests for comment in recent days.

"This is not living up to the promise [soldiers] thought they had," Jeff Frisby, executive director at the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, told Military.com. "With recruiting, for people who wanted those robust education benefits, now they realize this might not be something they want to do."

While it wasn't exactly peacetime, I came of age during the latter stages of the Cold War. A handful of my friends went into the service primarily for the GI Bill and college tuition. Which was something you could do in those days. With another Trumpian presidency looming on the horizon, it seems likely that the military may be on the verge of a transformation. Only the rabid, loyalist, brownshirts would join such an organization in the future...but I digress.

And looking a few hundred miles Southwest, it appears that America does still have flashes of that old "Can-Do" spirit...but only when it's important to the almighty dollar. There are reports that a small channel has already been cleared through the wreckage of the Key Bridge, but at this time only for ships involved in the salvage operation. A massive amount of money and resources are being poured into Baltimore Harbor in an effort to get the port cleared and operating again.

The Army and Navy have played a key role in helping to reopen a narrow channel at the site of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after a merchant vessel lost power and slammed into the bridge, collapsing it on March 26.

An official with the joint task force behind the cleanup and salvage effort confirmed to Military.com that the team, composed of Army, Navy and Coast Guard assets, has created a small channel that is open to "commercial, essential vessels."

"Those are going to be just the vessels that are working directly hand-in-hand with just the salvage operations that are going on," the official added.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters Monday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed an underwater survey "that needed to take place prior to removing the wreckage" and "highly trained demolition crews started cutting the top portion of the north side of the collapsed bridge on Saturday."

Singh also said that "multiple Navy barges are on site assisting in the efforts."

Officials responsible for the cleanup effort said that the temporary channel was planned to have "a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance 96 feet," in a statement Sunday.

A Navy statement released Friday said that it sent the Chesapeake, a 1,000-ton lift capacity derrick barge; the Ferrell, a 200-ton lift capacity revolving crane barge; and the Oyster Bay, a 150-ton lift capacity crane barge, to Baltimore Harbor, and an additional 400-ton lift capacity barge is on track to arrive "early next week."

Navy officials confirmed to Military.com that three civilian officials from the Navy's Supervisor of Salvage and Diving are deployed to the area, while Singh said that "over 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and ops specialists are available" from the Army Corps of Engineers for the effort.

About the only comparison I could come up with is the port of Naples, Italy during WWII. The allies liberated the city in September of 1943. The Nazis wrecked everything, and left sunken ships in the middle of the channel on top of that. The first Liberty Ship docked at a temporary mooring just one week later.

We'll see what Baltimore can do.

1 comments (Latest Comment: 04/02/2024 13:32:03 by Will_in_Ca)
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