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Four ways NDAA amendments are changing personnel issues

Flag officers may have more oversight placed on them, the Defense Department may have to look into flexible maternity leave and credentials might be easier for service members.

Those are just a taste of some of the amendments regarding personnel issues that made it into the House version of the 2019 defense authorization last week.

The May 9 markup went into the wee hours of the morning, so Federal News Radio rounded up what you need to know about personnel issues that snuck into the NDAA before the House Armed Services Committee passed it 60-1.

Credentialing

Credentials have been a big issue for the military and Congress over the past few years. Lawmakers find it preposterous that service members can drive an 18-wheeler in the military, but then have to go through another licensing process to drive one in the civilian world.


The 2019 House version of the defense authorization bill tries to make it easier for service members to transition to civilian life with employment options.

The amendment from Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) makes a subtle change to the military’s credentialing program, but it has large repercussions.

Previously, the law required DoD to pay for…

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Resilient Soldier Fights, Beats Cancer > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article


SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii —

When Army Sgt. Joseph Mickonis called his fiancee early in 2016 to say doctors thought he might have cancer, he couldn’t stop laughing.

“I’m trying to tell her she should come down to the hospital, but I can’t stop laughing,” he said. “So, she doesn’t think I’m serious. It was just one of the weirdest feelings, ever.”

Mickonis said he didn’t think it was a joke; laughing was just his way of dealing with the news. After some tests, doctors confirmed it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that spread in his neck.

‘What’s Next?’

“I didn’t break down in tears, I was like, ‘What’s next?’” Mickonis said.

What was next was an estimated four months of chemotherapy, which turned into nine months. He would leave his platoon in 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, where he served as a mortarman and joined the Warrior Transition Battalion to focus on his medical appointments at Tripler Army Medical Center at Fort Shafter.

Now, almost a year and a half later, Mickonis is cancer-free and ready to return…

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Carrier Strike Group 3 Completes Group Sail Training > U.S. Pacific Command > 2015

PACIFIC OCEAN – Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3 completed a group sail with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, May 11.

Group sail provides a unique training opportunity to improve interoperability and coordination in preparation for an upcoming deployment. Integrating strike group units at sea creates the accelerated learning and training environment needed to increase effectiveness, readiness, and proficiency in the skillsets required on deployment.

“The carrier strike group is in high demand to meet national requirements as we provide an incredibly powerful diplomatic and power projection tool for our nation,” said Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, commander of CSG 3. ”Group sail is a major step in preparing and training this force. Over the past two weeks we were able to closely coordinate planning and activities to demonstrate our capabilities and, most importantly, learn to operate safely and effectively together. We are building the cohesion across CSG 3 ships and squadrons necessary to be ready, when called, to respond as part of America’s away team.”

CSG 3 conducted…

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Too early to write off DoD e-health record

An old show-biz aphorism states, “Make your mistakes in small rooms.” You could say the same for software. When launching a new act, try it out where it can’t do too much damage.

To its credit, that’s how the Defense Department is handling its MHS Genesis project. The new electronic health care record system is supposed to be complete by 2022. So far, it’s only in four locations in the Pacific Northwest. Good thing, because it doesn’t quite work yet.

As Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports, users so far are unhappy. They’re dealing with s-l-o-w logins, convoluted workflows and potential prescription errors. The DoD’s testing arm concluded MHS Genesis isn’t “operationally effective.”

Better to find out in the military equivalent of Utica than on Broadway. Not that users (and patients) at Fairchild Air Force Base don’t matter. Or at the Madigan Army Medical Center. They do, but— droll as it might sound — DoD has to start somewhere. If the developers, integrators, users and administrators can keep their common goal in mind, this tilting project can get righted.


As IT modernizations go, this is a big one. More accurately, it’s a switch out…

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French Naval Aviators Partner With U.S. Navy During Chesapeake 2018 > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article


ATLANTIC OCEAN —

A French navy Rafale fighter jet crests the horizon, on a glide path to touch down as part of an historic combined flight operation aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group and French Carrier Air Wing departed Norfolk, Virginia, May 7 to begin combined exercise Chesapeake 2018.

Carrier Qualifications

French sailors embarked aboard the USS Bush to conduct carrier qualifications, a series of arrested landings and takeoffs from an aircraft carrier done regularly by squadrons to maintain their naval aviation proficiency. The exercise consists of one E-2C Hawkeye and 12 Rafale French navy aircraft and 27 pilots looking to keep their skills sharp.

“In preparation for the underway portion of this exercise the Rafales and Carrier Air Wing, eight aircraft worked side byside out of [Naval Air Station] Oceana doing tactical missions,” said Navy Capt. Sean R. Bailey, commanding officer of the USS Bush.

Operational Training

The French navy has one aircraft carrier, the Charles De Gaulle, which is undergoing a maintenance period. Approximately 3,700 U.S….

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Tester, Tillis Honor America’s Military Spouses

Tester, Tillis Honor America’s Military Spouses

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Eucom Commander Calls for Unity, Resolve to Defend Strong, Free Europe > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article


WASHINGTON —

Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti received the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Military Leader Award during a ceremony here last night.

Scaparrotti is NATO‘s supreme allied commander for Europe and the commander of U.S. European Command.

The Atlantic Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington-based “think tank” that specializes in international affairs.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, introduced Scaparrotti at the black-tie event.

Scaparrotti has commanded in “every clime and place,” from West Germany during the Cold War to Zaire, from Liberia to Bosnia, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dunford said.

Eucom’s, NATO’s ‘Inspiring Men, Women’

Accepting the award, Scaparrotti saluted “the inspiring men and women of NATO and the United States European Command.”

“As we gather this evening,” he continued, “tens of thousands of NATO service members from all 29 allied nations are deployed around the world conducting operations, missions and training exercises in the Arctic, in the high north and in…

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Syrian Democratic Forces Return Fire in Self-Defense > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article


SOUTHWEST ASIA —

Syrian Democratic Forces returned fire at an unidentified aggressor near Dayr Az Zawr, Syria, around noon local time yesterday.

The hostile force engaged SDF with artillery, and SDF responded in self-defense, resulting in the destruction of an artillery piece.

“We and our partners have repeatedly emphasized our non-negotiable right to self-defense,” said British Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, the deputy commander for strategy and support for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.

Coalition officials discussed the event with Russian counterparts via established ground and air deconfliction lines. There are no reports of casualties on either side.

The coalition remains committed to the lasting defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and to setting the conditions for follow-on stability operations.

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60 Years of Keeping North America Safe, Vice Chairman Says > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article


WASHINGTON —

The legacy of the North American Aerospace Defense Command began 60 years ago when the threat of nuclear attack was real. The threat of attack from Soviet bombers and missiles was what citizens experienced every day, said Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at NORAD’s 60th anniversary, today.

Speaking at Peterson Air Force Base Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the vice chairman said it was the development of NORAD — a joint and binational command that conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America — that helped alleviate that fear.

“It helped build one of the building blocks of deterrence that has served us since that day,” he said.

During that time period, Selva said, a group of staff officers from the U.S. Continental Air Defense Command and the Royal Canadian Air Force met and decided that the two nations were more powerful together than they were separately.

U.S., Canada Combining Forces

“The outcome of that meeting was a recommendation to the United States and Canada that we could counter that threat more…

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DLI’s Language Day Is an Explosion of Food, Learning & Culture

By Katie Lange,
Defense Media Activity

It’s not very often that you get to see a dozen or more cultures mixing together, showing off colorful garb, instruments and artifacts, all to get people interested in learning the language. But at the Defense Language Institute‘s annual Language Day, that’s exactly the plan. It’s a 60-year-old tradition that keeps growing in size because of its popularity.

Students perform a Chinese dragon dance during the Defense Language Institute’s Language Day 2018. DoD photo by Katie Lange

The DLI is the DoD’s premier language school, teaching military students how to become fluent in 17 languages, including Chinese, Russian, Urdu, Pashto and four forms of Arabic. The classes are intense, but they’re vital to training service members to do their jobs. Learn more about how it works here.

One day a year, the institute opens its doors to the public so they, too, can learn about the school’s training methods, the many languages and cultures offered, and of course, try out some tasty treats from each country. This year, more than 6,000 students from across 20 states and various countries attended.

A Chinese language instructor poses with students who have…

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