Two years after forcibly separating more than 6,000 airmen because of force management programs, the Air Force signaled it is moving in a new direction by nearly tripling the number of jobs eligible for selective re-enlistment bonuses in fiscal 2016, according to Air Force Times.
Airmen in 117 career fields could receive bonuses of as much as $90,000 if they re-enlist. That's far more than the 40 Air Force specialty codes that were eligible for the bonuses in 2015, the Air Force said in a Monday release.
The selective re-enlistment bonus expansion is proving to be far greater than Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, director of military force management policy, hinted at in an interview with Air Force Times last November. Kelly then said that airmen in more than 70 career fields would likely be eligible for more than $220 million in re-enlistment bonuses this year.
The top American commander in Afghanistan faces skeptical lawmakers amid concerns that worsening security conditions demand a greater number of U.S. forces to ensure the gains made in the war-torn country since 2001 aren't lost, according to Military.com.
Army Gen. John F. Campbell is slated to testify on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee, where members are expected to press him on President Barack Obama's plan to cut American troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 before he leaves office next January. Obama had backtracked from his initial plan to reduce the U.S. force to 1,000 by the end of 2016.
Republicans have long assailed Obama's exit strategy, arguing that conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, not a calendar, should determine the pace of the withdrawal. With the Taliban staging new offensives and the Islamic State extremist group seeking a presence in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats also are raising the prospect of an extended stay.
Military.com is also reporting that senior defense officials say the Pentagon will seek to quadruple the amount it is spending on military aid to Europe, amid expanding threats from Islamic State militants and an increasingly aggressive Russia.
Officials say the proposed budget initiative would total about $3.4 billion to increase troop rotations and military exercises, and position military equipment around Europe. The plan is mainly aimed at reassuring allies who are alarmed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimea region and its efforts to support separatists along the eastern border.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is expected to announce the funding plan Tuesday morning during a speech at the Economic Club of Washington. He also is expected to discuss proposals to boost spending on cutting-edge technologies and efforts to modernize the force to deal with longer-term threats.
Four former Blackwater security contractors found guilty in a deadly Baghdad shooting appealed their convictions on Monday, saying a key witness against them had changed his testimony after the trial and that prosecutors lacked jurisdiction to even bring the case, the Associated Press is reporting.
The appeals, long expected, represent the latest legal volley in a criminal case that's spanned years in Washington's federal court and that concluded with guilty verdicts following a months-long trial in 2014.
Nicholas Slatten is serving a life sentence on a charge of first-degree murder. Three other former guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Herd — were found guilty of manslaughter and firearms charges carrying mandatory 30-year sentences.
The case arose from the September 2007 shooting in Nisoor Square that prosecutors say left 14 civilians dead at the crowded traffic circle in downtown Baghdad. The shooting strained international relations and drew scrutiny to the role of American contractors in war-torn Iraq.