Pet projects leave troops ill-prepared

Freedom New Mexico This country would be much safer, with its core national interests better served, if the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan were ended immediately. While U.S troops are in the field, however, it is difficult to express just how utterly unconscionable it is for Congress to divert money requested for fuel, ammunition […]

TRICARE fee increases blocked

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The last decision made by House-Senate conferees negotiating final details on a fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill was to insert language that will rollback an announced Oct. 1 increase in fees charged to TRICARE Standard beneficiaries for stays in civilian hospitals. The surprise fee increases, reported here last week, gave […]

TRICARE increase stuns retirees

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Defense health officials didn’t do the Obama administration any favor last week when they announced a “small” increase in the daily fee that military retirees under 65, their families and covered survivors must pay for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under TRICARE Standard starting Oct. 1. The jump, in fact, […]

Senate doesn’t need to stop with F-22 cut

The 58-40 Senate vote last week to stop production of more F-22 fighter planes was a welcome bit of sanity applied to Pentagon spending. Whether it will lead to less wasteful Pentagon procurement policies in the future or go down as simply a symbolic gesture is a more complicated question. The F-22 was developed in […]

Congress limited in helping military

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist For the last eight years, lawmakers have loaded annual defense authorization bills with new pay and benefit initiatives to support troops and their families and to show the nation’s appreciation. This year’s defense bills — both the version passed by the House, and the Senate bill to be debated on […]

G.I. Bill benefits transfer now easier

By Tom Philpott: FNM columnist Service members nearing the end of their careers will find it easier than first thought to transfer new Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to their spouse or children, under Department of Defense regulations. And service members who elect to transfer GI Bill benefits will be allowed to modify or revoke […]

ENMU’s defense sparkles

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Freedom New Mexico: Kevin Wilson ENMU running back Arvin Jackson tries to beat linebacker Rashad McCalister to the sideline on a slant route in the second half of Saturday’s Green-Silver scrimmage at Greyhound Stadium. By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer BLACKWATER DRAW — As the saying goes, defense wins championships. For Eastern New Mexico University, […]

Gates: Health care needs overhaul

By Tom Philpott: FNM columnist Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ prescription for what ails the military health care system includes replacing aging hospitals, and raising TRICARE fees for working-age retirees, which Congress has kept frozen since 1995. “Health care is eating the (Defense) Department alive,” Gates told officers attending the Air War College on Maxwell-Gunter Air […]

Gates’ proposed defense reforms highly unlikely

Freedom New Mexico In proposing a major reshaping of defense spending even before the White House has processed the proposals and added its stamp of hopeful approval to the blueprint, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that it will be difficult “to make tough choices about specific systems and defense priorities based solely on the national […]

Electronic records not up to par

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The Department of Defense’s $4 billion electronic health record system, AHLTA, is so unreliable and difficult to use that military physicians list it among their top three reasons for leaving service. That fact came to light during a House armed services subcommittee hearing last week in which senior medical officers […]

‘Special pay’ begins in health sector

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The military medical community, battling shortages in war-critical health professionals including psychiatrists and clinical care nurses, will be the first community in the Department of Defense to use more flexible, responsive “special pay” authorities enacted by Congress nearly a year ago. Other communities — including nuclear and aviation, the enlisted […]

Raise, ‘Wellness’ plan get OK

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Military members will get a 3.9 percent pay raise in January. But the fiscal 2009 defense authorization approved by Congress on Saturday does not include a House-passed plan to set military pay raises through 2013 a half percentage point higher than private sector wage growth. The new defense bill will […]

Defense bill includes funding for Cannon

Staff and wire reports WASHINGTON — Troops would get a pay raise in a defense bill that Congress sent President Bush on Saturday. Even before passage, lawmakers had backed away from an election-season showdown with the administration over Iraq. Legislation approved by a voice vote in the Senate would increase pay by 3.9 percent, extend […]

Senators toss key amendments

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist To protect its prerogative of adding billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects to defense bills, the Senate last week passed its fiscal 2009 defense authorization bill without allowing votes on 101 pending amendments, some of them important to service personnel. About a third of the ignored amendments would have improved […]

Senate OKs bill containing Cannon funding

CNJ staff The Senate passed a defense bill Wednesday that includes $26 million in funding for construction projects at Cannon Air Force Base. The bill cleared the Senate 88-8 despite Republican objections to billions of dollars in special projects lawmakers had added. The measure would permit $612.5 billion in spending for national defense programs in […]

Disabled, retired pay concurrent

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist New groups of disabled retirees will be able this year to draw Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) or higher amounts of Concurrent Retired Disability Payments (CRDP) under legislation passed in January. Defense Finance and Accounting Service officials explained in an interview how they are implementing the changes. Again it will involve […]

Hounds’ defense gets test

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CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU’s Michael Carrasco (6) tries to find some open space between three defenders during Saturday morning’s scrimmage at Greyhound Stadium. The Greyhounds will wrap up spring drills with a game against an alumni team next Saturday. By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer BLACKWATER DRAW — Kyle Wilson figures with the […]

Rent proposal pitched to Congress

By Tom Philpott: CNJ Columnist Robert M. Gates is the first secretary of defense to live in military housing, an old but spacious 19th century home in a secure Navy compound in the District of Columbia. Gates also could be the last defense chief to live there, practical as it is, unless Congress amends a […]

Jury hears second day of testimony in Salas murder trial

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CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Prosecutor Matt Chandler shows the jury pictures of defendant Edward Salas while Krystal Anson looks on Tuesday at the Curry County Courthouse during the second day of Edward Salas’ homicide trial. By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer The prosecution used a parade of people Tuesday to place Edward Salas and […]

Costly defense doesn’t protect ground troops

Freedom New Mexico The Government Accountability Office has issued yet another study documenting gross overspending and underproduction in Pentagon weapons systems. The GAO has been doing these studies and making recommendations for the past six years, followed by promises from the Pentagon and defense contractors to improve. But the problems have not gotten better. If […]