Metro-East News

New vice commander named for 18th Air Force at Air Mobility Command

Brig. Gen. Lenny Richoux
Brig. Gen. Lenny Richoux

The Air Force announced that Brig. Gen. Lenny Richoux — who is now the Air Force’s director of services — will become vice commander of the 18th Air Force which is a sub-unit of the Air Mobility Comman, based at Scott Air Force Base. Richoux will be succeeded by Brig. Gen. Kathleen Cook, who is now the Air Force’s public affairs director.

Richoux was commissioned through Air Force ROTC program in 1989 following graduation from Georgia Institute of Technology. He began his flying career at Loring Air Force Base, Maine and was trained to operate the C-17 and KC-135 in combat. The general has served as a wing commander, vice wing commander, and squadron commander.

Richoux commanded the first integral C-17 squadron deployment in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, delivering combat personnel and equipment directly to the theaters of operations, according to his Air Force biography.

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is waiting to see whether Congress uses war funds in the 2017 defense budget before he decides to recommend that the president veto it, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Monday, according to Stars and Stripes.

During the last month, the House and Senate have passed their versions of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Though each chamber has passed an overall budget of $610 billion, the House version shifts $18 billion from a fund dedicated to war spending to pay for increased troops, aircraft and shipbuilding, a maneuver that Carter criticized as “gambling with funding for our troops.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is pushing the plan to use the $18 billion to address military readiness by tapping into the Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, fund to pay for it. This fund is not subject to the spending caps set by sequestration.

The war spending account pays for increased operations against the Islamic State group and increased U.S. troops and equipment in Europe. If the OCO fund runs out before the fiscal year ends, Congress would have to vote to approve additional war funding to replace the $18 billion used in the NDAA.

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The military’s case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl resumes with a pretrial hearing Tuesday that could result in his court-martial being moved until after this fall’s elections, according to Army Times.

The government has proposed delaying the start of the trial to December so classified documents can be properly reviewed and prepared.

The 30-year-old soldier faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter charge is relatively rare and carries the potential of life in prison.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was quickly captured after walking off his combat post in Afghanistan in 2009. He was held as a prisoner of war for five years by the Taliban and its allies until President Obama exchanged five Guantanamo Bay detainees for his safe return, saying the U.S. “does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.”

Obama’s decision was harshly criticized. Some members of Congress said it jeopardized national security. Drumpf has targeted Bergdahl for scorn dozens of times on the campaign trail, saying he should have been thrown from a plane.

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A former VA health system director has been sentenced to two years’ probation for failing to disclose gifts received while supervising the Phoenix hospital where whistleblowers revealed veterans on secret waiting lists faced scheduling delays of up to a year, according to Military.com.

U.S. District Court Judge Steven Logan sentenced Sharon Helman on Monday for making a false statement to a government agency by not including more than $19,000 in gifts — including a car, concert tickets and round-trip airfare — on a financial disclosure report.

Inside a sparsely-filled court room in Phoenix, Logan described Helman’s career as impressive and her ethical violation as deliberate.

“I’m accepting the plea, but I’m not naive,” he said. “The reason you didn’t report any of it was because deep down you knew.”

Helman was accused of failing to list more than $50,000 in gifts she received from a lobbyist between 2012 and 2014. She pleaded down to a single charge under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors prior to the sentencing.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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