Metro-East News

Scott AFB says goodbye to Roy, a beloved military working dog

Scott Air Force Base’s military working dog Roy/J351 died on May 20 due to health complications.
Scott Air Force Base’s military working dog Roy/J351 died on May 20 due to health complications.

Scott Air Force Base had to say goodbye to retired military working dog Roy/J351 on May 20 due to health complications caused by a tumor.

Roy had been retired to Staff Sgt. Joel Brooks, who’s now assigned to Lackland to train military working dogs.

Scott paid tribute to Roy on the base’s Facebook page:

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After overseeing a sharp reduction in troop strength, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh is becoming increasingly blunt about where he thinks manpower levels should be — and that's at full manning, 40,000 to 60,000 more airmen.

Air Force leaders have been advocating for more airmen to sustain the overworked and undermanned force. It’s where all the “bigger problems” stem from, Welsh said during a speech at an Air Force Association breakfast in the Washington, D.C.-area.

“Every problem we have in growing, in modernizing, increasing mission capability, is manpower related,” he said.

The service expects to grow from its current level of about 311,000 active duty airmen to 317,000 by the end of fiscal 2016, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in February. But she plans to push past the end strength and request an additional 4,000 airmen.

The service is working harder to build up its cyber and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance units, and is training more airmen in newer aircraft systems like the F-35, which is supposed to reach initial operational capability between August and December.

Welsh pointed to the example of ISR, which is steadily increasing from 60 daily remotely piloted aircraft combat air patrols (or caps) a day, to 70 flights. And amid that increase, somewhere else in the world, an entirely new requirement for Air Force ISR assets is popping up.

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Two U.S. troops were wounded — one in Iraq and one in Syria — over the weekend by indirect fire in a sign of the increasing danger to U.S. forces as the campaign against ISIS accelerates, the Pentagon said Tuesday, according to Military.com.

The American casualty in Syria was the first acknowledged by the Defense Department in the effort by Special Forces to train and advise an alliance of rebel groups focused on retaking the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the northeastern city of Raqqa.

The other U.S. casualty occurred west of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, where U.S. trainers and advisers have been assisting Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the early stages of the push to retake Mosul, the main ISIS stronghold in northwestern Iraq.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill said Tuesday that she was introducing the Arla Harrell Act to help veterans of World War II who say they were exposed to mustard gas prove their cases, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The bill is named after Missouri veteran Arlie Harrell, who says he was twice exposed to mustard gas experiments in 1945 at Camp Crowder in Missouri. He has suffered lifelong health problems, including cancer and lung disease.

McCaskill's bill would shift the burden of proof. Instead of veterans' having to prove their case, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense would have a higher burden to reject them. She rolled out her legislation Tuesday with a video describing Harrell's case and her legislation.

The VA has four times rejected Harrell's claims for benefits. The latest rejection came last month. McCaskill said that only about 40 of 4,000 veterans ostensibly exposed to the mustard gas experiments in World War II had been able to prove claims.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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