Metro-East News

Roger That: New maternity rules take effect for female troops

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

With the Army's rollout of their new rules, women in the U.S. military are now able to access a new maternity leave policy granting 12 weeks of non-chargeable leave after the birth of a child, according to Military.com.

The service on Wednesday detailed the rules as part of a memo that took effect in early February. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter had ordered the services to implement the new policy no later than Feb. 5.

Female sailors and Marines who were pregnant or were part of a “birth event” by Thursday will be permitted 18 weeks of leave per a policy announced by the Navy last summer that has since been rolled back.

Airman and soldiers currently on maternity leave will be able to extend their leave to 12 weeks, the memo states. Those who are using chargeable leave in connection with their maternity leave can convert up to 84 days to non-chargeable leave, it says.

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Reports of Central Command manipulating Iraq and Syria war intelligence have been grossly distorted and are damaging to the Pentagon’s analysis efforts, a Marine general in charge of a key Defense Department intelligence-gathering operation told House lawmakers on Wednesday, according to Military.com.

Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the allegations have been overblown in a way that “disturbs me more than I can state” and said he was thankful for an opportunity to vent during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

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The capture of an Islamic State militant by commandos from the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force didn’t just take a wanted fighter off the battlefield. It also highlighted that the battle to reconquer the pivotal city of Mosul has already begun, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

U.S. warplanes have been pounding Islamic State militants in and around the northern Iraqi city for months while Kurdish and Iraqi forces have sought to strangle key supply routes between Mosul and the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria.

The revelation Wednesday that U.S. commandos recently nabbed what the Pentagon described as a “mid-level” Islamic State operative reflects a strategic shift from what was strictly an air operation to one that includes ground combat forces, something President Barack Obama pledged not to do.

The move will allow American ground forces to gather badly needed intelligence on the group in advance of the Mosul offensive. Reliable, detailed intelligence has often been lacking in the fight against the Islamic State, and commanders hope the raids by the commando force will paint a clearer picture of the militants’ networks and operations. The Pentagon refused to name the militant or provide more details about his role within the Islamic State.

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The U.S. Army has announced that about 1,000 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy to Afghanistan this spring.

The service in a press release on Wednesday said the deployment of troops from 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, is part of a regular rotation of forces in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Maj. Gen. John Thomson, the division commander, said in the release, “The troopers of the regiment are well-trained, well-equipped, and most importantly well-led. They are absolutely ready for this important mission.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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