Metro-East News

Senate panel approves pay raise for troops, requiring women to register for draft

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

A key Senate panel on Thursday voted to approve a 1.6 percent pay raise for troops, requiring women to register for the draft and overhauling the military health care system, according to Military.com.

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved the proposals as part of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which sets policy goals and spending targets for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The panel, headed by Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, voted 23-3 in favor of the legislation, which would authorize $602 billion in funding for the Defense Department and national security programs at the Energy Department.

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SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter sees a variety of missions for the Pentagon’s new, secretive space center — and that includes fighting the Islamic State, according to the Washington Post.

The Pentagon chief said Thursday that the new Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center established by the Defense Department last fall has a role not only in preparing for potential conflicts against rival countries, but in counterterrorism. The center was created after a years-long debate to integrate space operations with the workings of conventional military units and intelligence agencies.

Carter visited the center along with other senior defense officials and praised its potential. Most public discussion about the center has focused on the “war games” it carries out to prepare for conflict with adversaries such as Russia and China, but the Pentagon chief said the center is doing more than that.

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Air Force Times is reporting that the four months since the Air Force opened up the last male-only combat jobs to women, five have tried to enter the special operations training program.

But so far, all have failed the Physical Aptitude and Stamina Test that is required before anyone can begin spec ops training.

Two of those women hope to become pararescue airmen, and three want to become Tactical Air Control Party airmen, Air Education and Training Command spokeswoman 1st Lt. Erin Ranaweera said May 12. All five are new recruits to the Air Force.

They haven’t given up yet. In a May 10 email, AETC spokeswoman Marilyn Holliday said “a few came very close and continue to work toward that goal.”

And Ranaweera said it’s not uncommon for male candidates to fail the physical aptitude test the first time they take it. All five women have only taken the test once.

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WASHINGTON — In a surprise move, Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain is looking to eliminate the F-35 joint program office, currently the hub of the gargantuan operation that spans three U.S. services and 12 nations, according to Defense News.

The provision in his version of the defense policy bill, approved by the committee Thursday as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, would disband the joint program office after the F-35 reaches full-rate production in April 2019.

The responsibility for the program would then fall to the U.S. departments of the Navy and the Air Force, according to a summary of the bill released Thursday.

The JPO declined to comment on pending legislation. But a source familiar with the issue said McCain’s proposal fails to account for the international reach of the JSF program.

“They took a very U.S.-centric viewpoint on it, forgetting about that there are 11 other countries involved in the F-35 program,” according to the source. “I don’t think that the provision accounts for international aspects to the program.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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