Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: April, 2012 (92) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 92

April 2, 2012 at 12:39pm

U.S. troops get new protections in Afghanistan

This from Army Times: WASHINGTON - U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned "guardian angels" - troops that watch over their comrades even as they sleep - and have ordered a series of other increased security measures to protect troops against possible attacks by rogue Afghans.

The added protections are part of a directive issued in recent weeks by Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to guard against insider threats, according to a senior military official. And they come in the wake of a spike in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces by Afghans, including the point-blank shooting deaths of two U.S. advisers in Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior.

Some of the changes have been subtle, others not so much.

In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons. And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal directive.

To read the rest of the story, click here

Filed under: Afghanistan, Army News, Deployment,

April 2, 2012 at 12:46pm

Reserve Soldier who spoke at Paul rally reprimanded

This from the Associated Press: IOWA CITY, Iowa - A soldier who went on national television in his military fatigues to endorse Ron Paul's presidential campaign after the Iowa caucuses has been reprimanded but not dismissed from the Army Reserve, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The Army determined that Jesse D. Thorsen violated policies that bar soldiers from participating in political events in their official capacities or while in uniform. Experts say a reprimand may become a problem if Thorsen seeks a promotion or could be used to justify more serious punishment if he gets in trouble again.

Army Reserve spokeswoman Angel Wallace said a letter of reprimand was placed in Thorsen's official personnel file. Thorsen, who learned of the punishment following a two-month investigation, declined comment when reached by email. His supporters praised the news on a Facebook page dedicated to him, noting it could have been worse.

To read the rest of the story, click here.    

Filed under: News To Us, Reservists,

April 3, 2012 at 9:50am

Bill could protect Servicemembers' custody rights

This from Army Times: Sixty-three members of the House Armed Services Committee are backing legislation to protect the child custody rights of service members, but it is unclear if their support is enough to get the protections into law.

Six times, the House has approved child custody provisions that would prevent a court from making a permanent change in child custody arrangements while a service member is deployed and would prohibit a state court from deciding someone is an unfit parent solely because of their military service. It has passed five times as a provision attached to the annual defense policy bill and once as a stand-alone measure.

Each time, the Senate Armed Services Committee has balked at passing the legislation.

But the chief House sponsors, Reps. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and Rob Andrews, D-N.J., have not given up, and are hoping the collective support of the entire House Armed Services Committee might change some minds.

In a statement, Turner said his goal is to ensure that military parents do not "have to live with the constant fear that their custody rights as parents could be in jeopardy due to their service."

To read the entire story, click here

Filed under: Army News, Dependent, News To Us,

April 3, 2012 at 10:02am

No new Army helicopters until at least 2030

This from NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Army plans to stick with its current helicopter inventory over the next two decades, opting to wait until 2030 at the earliest to revolutionize a fleet flown hard around Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army helicopters will receive upgrades over the next two decades, as they always have, but the austere budget environment has forced the Army to try and keep its current fleet in the air for as long as it can.

Army aviation leaders have gotten the message that helicopters don't sit atop the service's modernization priority list. Any money the service has in its shrinking defense modernization budget will go to new radios, the Ground Combat Vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Rather than fight a losing battle, aviation officials have sunk all of their political capital into keeping a next-generation helicopter alive. Army officials have built expectations for the program up to such a level they won't even call it a helicopter program. Instead it's simply called the "Future Vertical Lift."

Read the rest here.   

April 3, 2012 at 10:08am

Company creates IED simulator

From Defense News: Failing a training exercise brings consequences: pressure from a commander, ridicule from peers, a sense of shame and, potentially, a few jolts of electricity to the thigh.

Ti Training, a small business in Golden, Colo., that creates simulators for firearms and other uses of force, has developed an IED trainer called the Lm - Land Mine Simulator. The device shocks troops when they detonate the system during training.

The small black mines, made of PVC, are pressure-activated and can be buried or hidden. When triggered, the mines emit a radio frequency (RF) signal that activates a shock on a thin paddle worn by troops on their belts. It's essentially a painful pager.

The shock is adjustable and ranges from 7 to 40 milliamps, meaning it can feel like a pinch or something far more unpleasant - though nowhere near the level of a taser.

"It changes the psychology of how you train," said Greg Otte, president of Ti Training. "If you go in knowing nothing is going to go wrong, you have a tendency not to be as focused."

For the complete story, click here

Filed under: Afghanistan, Training,

April 3, 2012 at 2:29pm

Pitbull concert moved to JBLM Main

The free Pitbull concert origionally scheduled for May 3 at McChord Field has been moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Main's Cowan Stadium. The event opens at 5 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is free to those 18 and older with a military ID card. 

Filed under: Familes, MWR, Fort Lewis,

April 3, 2012 at 2:42pm

Overcome spouse job search fears in 5 easy steps

From Every day I work with military spouses just like you who are looking for a job.  Over time,  I've come to think that spouse job search fears really have something to do with how often you have to look for work.  If you were not a military spouse, looking for a job would be less frequent and it would be on your own terms.  Yet when it comes to a military spouse's career, everything is on everyone else's terms.  It's like the world is saying, "Do it again.  Do it in a different area.  You need to learn something else new.  And, oh, by the way, we need to pay the bills, too.  So hurry up."

No wonder we all have some spouse job search fears.  I know that military spouses do have challenges.   Just like any other challenge in your life, a few specific strategies will help you get over it and get on with it.  Here are some tips that work for my clients:

  1.  Set an "At This Base" goal.  Your long-term goal may be to have a master's degree.  But your reality is that you won't be at an installation long enough to complete that degree.  If you know you will live there for two years, two years is long enough to complete an associate's degree.  Completing an associate's degree at this base now becomes the "at this base goal".  The same thing works for your career.  You may have a goal to be the supervisor of all counselors in county schools.  Two years isn't long enough to reach that goal.  So set a goal of being the most innovative school counselor in the county for the next two years.

For the rest of the steps, click here.

April 3, 2012 at 5:45pm

Transition services now mandatory for Soldiers

From Army Times: FORT KNOX, Ky. - Soldiers now must participate in transition services before they leave active duty.

An execution order requiring them to make use of the services is in force throughout the Army.

The order applies to all soldiers who are leaving active duty, whether they are Regular Army members who are separating or retiring or reservists demobilizing after six months or more on active duty.

The order, which implements a directive issued last year by Army Secretary John McHugh, further requires that transition processing begin at least 12 months before a soldier leaves active duty and that the soldier's commander oversee the process.

The new procedures will be bolstered later this year when the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act is implemented Nov. 20 for all the military services.

"From the Army standpoint, we are planning for that mandate, and getting additional resources to support implementation across the active and reserve components," said Walter M. Herd, director of the Army Career and Alumni Program.

This will result in about a 300 percent increase in the number of soldiers participating in transition services, Herd said.

To read more, click here

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us, Veterans,

April 4, 2012 at 10:34am

Marine Sues to Block Discharge Over Facebook Posts

From Knight Ridder/Tribune newspapers: SAN DIEGO -- A Camp Pendleton Marine is taking his First Amendment fight to the federal courts.

Attorneys representing Sgt. Gary Stein filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and Brigadier Gen. Daniel D. Yoo.

"I can confirm that my lawyers on behalf of me are filing a lawsuit in federal court," Stein said told Fox 5 Tuesday afternoon.

The nine-year Marine veteran is working with the ACLU and U.S. Justice Foundation in the lawsuit against his commanding officers and the Pentagon.

The suit is designed to stop his discharge proceedings in response to comments he made on Facebook.

To read more of the story, click here

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us,

April 4, 2012 at 1:17pm

First lady pushes base jobs for troops' spouses

From Army Times via AP: WASHINGTON - Opening another front in her nearly year-old campaign to support service families, first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday unveiled a new push for jobs on or near military bases.

She also announced plans to mark the Joining Forces campaign's first anniversary with a two-day, four-state swing next week that will include stops in election battleground states Pennsylvania and Florida and a chat with comedian Stephen Colbert on his show "The Colbert Report."

The Joining Forces organization said it has lined up commitments for more than 15,000 jobs in the coming years. Most will come from telemarketing and customer support companies and will enable the spouses and veterans to work from home.

Mrs. Obama noted these jobs are especially helpful to military families because they move so often across state lines - about 10 times more often than the typical U.S. family.

"We're trying to meet these spouses where they are," she said in a conference call with reporters. "This will make such a huge difference ... When the next set of orders comes in for these families, and they have to move across the country, they'll be able to move these jobs with them."

Ahead of the Joining Forces anniversary, the first lady was visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to distribute Easter treats from the White House pastry shop to military families staying there.

See the rest here.

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