Metro-East News

Scott AFB to get 41 jobs with start of new unit

Belleville News-Democrat reporter Mike Fitzgerald.
Belleville News-Democrat reporter Mike Fitzgerald. News-Democrat

Scott Air Force Base will get 41 new jobs as a result of the activation of Detachment 9 of the newly minted Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter, AFIMSC commander, presided over the ceremony earlier this month as Col. Mark H. McCloud assumed command of Detachment 9, the Air Force announced.

AFIMSC was set up to help Air Force bases cut costs, create efficiencies and eliminate redundant activities. It is setting up detachments at nine major Air Force commands and one direct reporting unit to support the needs of the commands nationwide. Detachment 9 combines and oversees functions in the comptroller, civil engineer, communications, security forces, personnel and support career fields. AFIMSC takes control of installation and mission support funding beginning in 2016.

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The investigative journalism website Pro Publica is reporting that the Defense Department gave more than $2 billion to U.S. military commanders to spend as they wished on a defined grab bag of “urgent humanitarian” needs. The goal was to gain support from the locals for both the U.S. military and the nascent Afghan government. It was, the military said: “money as a weapons system.”

The website lists a wide array of spending targets: Nearly $5,000 went to a father whose daughter and son were caught in a crossfire; another $182,000 was doled out on sweaters; a motorcycle shop owner received a $903 grant to replace equipment the Taliban stole; and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on large projects, such as a hospital in a rural area that had no healthcare.

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Discover magazine is reporting that the U.S. Department of Defense research agency, or DARPA, has recently tested homing bullets that maneuver themselves in-flight to hit moving targets from long distance. Researchers first tested the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance, or EXACTO, earlier this year. The “smart” bullets have enabled expert, as well as novice, marksmen to consistently hit a target from hundreds of yards away.

The EXACTO is a .50-caliber round — about the size of a Sharpie permanent marker — and is used in long-range sniper rifles and machine guns. An EXACTO homing bullet uses a real-time, optical guidance system to identify a target and keep it in its sights. It uses an onboard mechanism to control its flight and correct course in the short time it’s airborne. The system, DARPA says, compensates for weather, wind, target movement and other factors with each shot.

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The Senate Armed Services Committee has rejected the Defense Department’s efforts to overhaul Tricare, the healthcare system for military families and retirees, the Military Times is reporting. In its draft version of the 2016 defense authorization bill, committee members decided against making sweeping changes to Tricare, including new fees for most retirees and abolishing the current structure in favor of a consolidated plan that divided programs into managed and network care, and non-network care.

Even so, the committee bill would make some small adjustments to Tricare pharmacy fees, allow Tricare beneficiaries up to four urgent care visits per year without the need for pre-authorization, and require the Pentagon to publish information about access to care and provide many reports on the status of its health facilities and services.

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Nearly 100 years after their heroics on the battlefields of France, two World War I veterans will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor, next month by President Barack Obama, the Associated Press is reporting.

Army Sgt. William Shemin, who was Jewish, raced across the battlefield three times to pull wounded comrades to safety. And Army Pvt. Henry Johnson rescued a comrade in his all-black regiment while fighting off a German attack. Medals for the two New Yorkers were approved by Congress after long campaigns to bestow recognition on men who may have been unjustly denied the honor due to discrimination.

Johnson, of the 369th Infantry Regiment's “Harlem Hellfighters,” and Shemin, of the 4th Infantry Division, will receive the award from President Obama at a White House ceremony on June 2.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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