Tagged: Department of Defense

Sequestration Would Devastate Army Brigade Combat Team Training and Maintenance Budgets

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

describe the imageHigh-tech weapons systems have Congressional constituencies and highly-paid corporate lobbyists with big budgets. They make campaign contributions big enough to put politicians in or out of business – and big enough to fund primary challengers if the incumbent politician doesn’t play ball.

Training, maintenance and spare parts budgets? Not so much.

And so the sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act – should they come to fruition – will fall heavily on Army BCT training and readiness budgets. The axe will cleave the 2nd tier units most deeply: That is, those not facing imminent deployments to Afghanistan or Korea.

Defense News – a Gannett publication and sister publication to Military Times, recently obtained an internal Army memo detailing the expected impact of sequestration on the backbone of the combat power of the Army: The brigade combat team.

Among the Army’s projections:

  • The budget for Active Component Operation and Maintenance, Army (OMA) is already $6 billion less than their projected requirements, even without sequestration.
  • If sequestration goes into effect, there will be an additional shortfall of $5.3 billion.
  • Together with a separate budget category – Emerging Overseas Contingency Operations Requirements, the Army is expecting a shortfall for OMA of up to 18.3 billion dollars in fiscal year 2013 – which will have substantial spillover effects through 2014 and even longer.
  • All 251,000 Army civilian employees could receive furloughs – unpaid leave – of up to 22 days.
  • Cumulative budget reductions will “distress and shock” Army installations and their surrounding communities with wide-scale reduction of support contracts.
  • All non-deploying or non-forward-stationed units (with the exception of one BCT will incur a delay of several months for training required under COCOM standards. 

The memo stated that “Shortfalls of this size, this far into the year, when some of our budget is already spent, will potentially impact 90 percent of remaining OMA funds – immediately eroding readiness, leaving the army with fully-trained unit only for OEF, rotations to Korea and the Global Response Force Brigade Combat Team.”

Specific Actions

  • The Army has already provided layoff notices to 1,300 temporary workers. An Army-wide freeze on civilian hiring is in effect.
  • Civilian employees will lose approximately 20 percent of pay.
  • The Army will halt post-combat repair and maintenance for 1,300 vehicles, 14,000 communication devices and 17,000 weapons.
  • If sequestration occurs, the Army will lay off 5,000 contract maintenance employees. Mostly in Alabama, Texas and Georgia.
  • Collective training at TO&E units will focus on squad and platoon level. Resources will not generally be available to train companies or battalions on collective tasks except for those deploying.
  • Four of the six currently scheduled brigade and battalion-level rotations to JRTC and the National Training Center will be canceled.
  • The Army will postpone individual training for 513 aviators, 4,000 military intelligence soldiers, and will cancel 15 field artillery training courses. Combat aviation brigades will be significantly eroded. 
  • All restoration and modernization projects will be cancelled. Facility sustainment will be reduced from 90 percent to 37 percent.
  • Procurement programs across the board will reduce orders by 10 to 15 percent. This will affect 1,000 different companies in over 40 states.

The memo comes just after the Navy announced that it is cancelling the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman and its carrier battlegroup because of budget uncertainties. The job losses are not unexpected, but will not be welcome news to the Army community.

In leaking this memo, the Army may be seeking to rally public pressure on Congressional representatives to forge a compromise to avoid the more draconian provisions of the Budget Control Act. However, at least some significant budget reductions is almost certain at this point, barring a major international development.

The Top 10 Reactions to the DoD’s New “Distinguished Warfare Medal” From Around the Web

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Top 10 DoD reactionsLast week, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the military was rolling out a new medal, the Distinguished Warfare Medal, designed to recognize outstanding achievement by those involved in drone operations, cyber-warfare, and the like. The Pentagon announced that the new medal would rank below the Silver Star, but above the Bronze Star Medal, even with “V” device, and the Purple Heart.

Reactions from around the web were entertaining and colorful, to say the least – and were nearly uniformly incredulous or condemnatory.

While many agreed we should be recognizing the contributions of rear-echelon troops doing a good job, there were no defenders of the decision to place the award above the BSM and Purple Heart in the OML. Not one.

Here are the top 10 reactions to the DWM from bloggers and commenters around the Web.

10. “Hmmmm, I ain’t a sneaky pete operator or nothing like that.

But to me it does kinda sting a little and make my 250+ mission days “Outside the wire” running all around Sadr City then Najaf and Diwaniya doing a job and shouldering the responsibility 2 ranks above what I was wearing seem a little less important.”  —“ShitPile”

9. “So this new medal for sitting in an OPS center at some undisclosed location will be higher than that?  Higher than the Bronze Star that a PFC at a remote COP might be awarded for taking charge of his mortar team during a patrol and providing accurate fires on the enemy after his team leader was wounded?  Higher than a Bronze Star awarded to a Buck Sergeant, who after being deployed for 7 months, is working 3 levels higher as the Company First Sergeant in his section because of combat attrition?  No disrespect to the Predator driver and missile shooter; you guys are an important component in the battles we fight, but I could get my work done in the ‘Stan without them.  They are doing a job that can be done wearing flip-flops while eating take out. The only thing funnier than giving this award would be seeing this medal awarded to the awardees standing at attention in their flight suits.

There are alot of medals for achievement, I don’t think we need one that would rank higher than a Bronze Star for the ‘‘extraordinary achievement’’ of pressing the “FIRE” button on your Predator Drone flight control to launch a missile that is going to ride a laser beam being painted on a target by a TAC-P that is just as dirty, sleep deprived and smelly as the platoon of infantry in the fight around him; who are actually and life threateningly engaged with the enemy.

And if you are thinking “Deebow, why are you so upset about this?  Don’t you want to recognize the contributions that these people have made to the GWOT?”

Ask me that after you read my Bronze Star citation…”  —Deebow

8. “Well, those in the military know what an award really means, so I have no doubt that this cereal-box prize will find its proper level of merit in the minds of those who matter.”  —Pubius

7.  “As one that earned the Bronze Star w/Valor I believe everytime you see someone wearing this POS medal just pop him or her in the chops. Won’t take long for it to go into the bottom drawer.” – James Smith, Ret. E-7, USAF

6.” All of a sudden my bsm just does’nt seem as important. i kinda feel like doing a john kerry and throwing it at the white house.” —bobdacat

5. “I fail to see why any combat medal is even being comtemplated. If they feel bad about the job, get counseling or get out – it’s the military, not car insurance sales.”  —dorotheab

4. “Was this the brainchild of some Chairborne Ranger fornicating with the Good Idea Fairy?” –Scott Allen Lachut

3. “Will it be virtually awarded to their avatar?” — 68W58

2. “This is a massive insult to all soldiers who EARNED their Bronze Star medal. What a slap in the face.”  —Justin Lawson, Fairfield, CT

…And the number one reaction to the Pentagon’s new Distinguished Warfare Medal is:

1. “Wow! For a second I thought I was reading the Duffelblog!”Stephen Murga, Miami, Florida

Military Order of the Purple Heart Condemns SECDEF Decision as “Degrading and Insulting”

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Distinguished Warfare Medal The Military Order of the Purple Heart, an independent advocacy organization representing combat-wounded veterans, has condemned the Pentagon’s decision to place the new Distinguished Warfare Medal above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal in the order of precedence list as “degrading and insulting.” “The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) adamantly opposes the Department of Defense decision to recognize military personnel whose extraordinary achievements may indirectly impact combat operations while they remain safely away from the battlefield, with an award whose order of precedence would place it above other awards for heroism on the battlefield, such as the Bronze Star for Valor,” the MOPH announced today.   

“…To rank what is basically an award for meritorious service higher than any award for heroism is degrading and insulting to every American Combat Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine who risks his or her life and endures the daily rigors of combat in a hostile environment.”

The MOPH’s sentiments were echoed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which issued an unusually strong condemnation of the Pentagon’s order of precedence decision. “America’s largest combat veterans’ organization is in total disagreement with the Pentagon’s decision to have its new Distinguished Warfare Medal outrank the Bronze Star and Purple Heart,” said John E. Hamilton, national commander of the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries. “It is very important to properly recognize all who faithfully serve and excel, but this new medal — no matter how well intended — could quickly deteriorate into a morale issue.

 “The VFW fully concurs that those far from the fight are having an immediate impact on the battlefield in real-time,” said Hamilton, a combat-wounded Marine Corps rifleman in Vietnam, “but medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear. The VFW urges the Department of Defense to reconsider the new medal’s placement in the military order of precedence.”

In other news, a Stars & Stripes correspondent reports that U.S. Air Force public affairs officials forbade the paper from seeking comment about the medal from airmen stationed at Kandahar Air Force Base.

DoD Announces New Medal for Outstanding REMFs

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Distinguished Warfare MedalRear echelon troops, PX rangers, pogues and desk jockeys rejoice! Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced that you, too, will qualify for a snazzy new decoration: The Distinguished Warfare Medal.

Tired of the combat veterans returned from their deployments shoving you against your locker in the post gym? Sick of hearing the trigger-pullers who actually risked their lives overseas, braving Moojie bullets, roadside bombs, mortar shells, dysentery, camel spiders, 120-degree-plus weather, weeks at a time in sub-freezing temperatures, and long hours training Iraqi and Afghan troops brag incessantly about their pathetic contribution to the war effort? 

Those days are over. With the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, you can finally pin something to your chest that even trumps those pesky bronze star medals with “V” devices and the wizened combat veterans who wear them. That’s right: The DWM will rank higher on the decoration order of merit list (OML) than the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. It will fall just below the Distinguished Flying Cross on the OML – a sure indicator that Air Force brass was behind this medal but they weren’t willing to trump their own flyboy awards. 

Tired of getting lorded over in the locker room or teased in the coffee area by troops with Bronze Stars and valor devices? The Distinguished Warfare Medal finally lets you one-up these guys – all without having to suffer the inconvenience and indignity of actually showing up in a combat zone.

In fact, you can win one of these babies right in your office in Tampa, Miami, or even Washington, D.C.!

Finally, you’ll get some respect from those foul-mouthed, uppity infantry, MPs, artillerymen, combat engineers, aviators, fuel truck divers, HUMINT operators and other warriors who sullied their hands with foreign soil.

Are they giving you a hard time? Teasing you in the post Baskin-Robbins? Simply pull out your medal, flash one of these babies, and they will totally look at you with newfound respect.

Promise.

Obama SECDEF Pick Wins Critical Iranian Endorsement

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

chuck hagelPresident Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Senator Charles Hagel (R-Neb.) appears to have won the endorsement of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, according to reporting by CBS News. The Iranian nod is considered by many to be critical in shoring up support within the White House for what is expected to be a hotly contested nomination.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry appears to be backing President Barack Obama’s pick of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as secretary of defense.

Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in an interview Tuesday that he hopes the Hagel nomination will improve relations between the United States and Tehran.

“We hope there will be practical changes in American foreign policy and that Washington becomes respectful of the rights of nations,” Mehmanparast said, according to Reuters.

Hagel, a longtime Republican, has distinguished himself as perhaps the only Senate Republican whose nomination is not acceptable to Senate Republicans.

As a Senator, Hagel has come out against the formal designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, despite its known involvement in a series of lethal terrorist attacks against Israeli noncombatants. Hagel also opposed even the discussion of a military strike against Iran in order to halt their nuclear weapons program. He has also spoken critically of the political influence of the “Jewish lobby.”

His comments have earned him significant opposition even among some Democrats, and longtime Clinton ally and legal advisor Lanny Davis has called his remarks “offensive to the Jewish community.”

Writes Davis:

As to why so many American Jews are highly offended by Hagel’s use of the expression “Jewish lobby,” if he doesn’t understand its historical association with virulent anti-Semitism and the scurrilous libel of “dual loyalty” used by anti-Semites against Jews, then I would ask him the following question:

Have you ever used the expression the “Catholic lobby” when describing pro-life lobbyists? If you did, would you understand why Catholics would be offended by that expression — because many Catholics are pro-choice and would be offended for you to invoke an expression describing their religion rather than their views on the abortion issue? Do you recall how offended John F. Kennedy was at the notion that he would have dual loyalty as president — to America and to the pope — a charge JFK vigorously denied and considered to be emblematic of anti-Catholic bigotry?

Additionally, Hagel has supported efforts to have Iran join the U.S. at the table for Afghanistan peace talks.

Opposition from GLBT Americans

Senator Hagel has also alienated some Democrats for comments he made in 1998, opposing the Clinton appointment of James Hormel to Luxembourg because of Hormel’s homosexuality.  Said Hagel of ambassador’s generally: “They are representing America. They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly, aggressively gay…”

Hagel’s opposition has earned him criticism from openly and aggressively gay individuals across the country. Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank has come out strongly opposing Hagel’s nomination on those grounds, as have the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP-aligned group advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians. UPDATE: Frank Reverses!

Hagel’s Record on the Iraq War

Senator Hagel warned against invading Iraq, calling any operation that sought to impose democracy on the Iraqi people as a “roll of the dice.” Consequently, he voted in favor of going to war.

In 2006, with the Army and Marine Corps locked in a brutal counterinsurgency, Hagel called publicly for a phased withdrawal, calling the Bush/Petraeus “surge” that, paired with the Sunni Awakening, destroyed Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as a significant combat force, “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”

If his nomination is approved, Hagel, who served as an infantry squad leader and was twice wounded in Vietnam, will be the first enlisted warrior to serve as Secretary of Defense, according to the White House.

Hagel will join Obama’s Secretary of State nominee Senator John Kerry – perhaps the one Vietnam War veteran most universally despised among actual Vietnam War veterans –as President Obama’s first two cabinet nominations of his second term.

All eyes now are on Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat from Iowa, to see whether Hagel will win the all-important phony veteran constituency.

 

Tell us what you think of Senator Hagel’s nomination. Should he be confirmed? Who else would you like to see nominated instead?

VA Makes it Easier for Native American Veterans to Access Care

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Indian Health Services and VAEarlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced an agreement with Indian Health Affairs that will make it easier for Native American veterans to access VA-sponsored health care.

The two organizations signed an agreement that will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to directly reimburse IHS clinics and staff for services provided to qualifying veterans who are Native American or Native Alaskan.

Under the agreement, VA copays do not apply to treatments received from the IHS.

Until this point, veterans in very remote, rural areas had difficulty accessing VA care, because they were far from established VA hospitals and clinics. The agreement will make it possible for Native Americans to receive care from clinics already established on and near Indian reservations.

A listing of Indian Health Service medical services and resources is here.

This is not the first agreement between the IHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs. They also reached agreements in Memorandums of Understanding in 2003 and 2010. But this is the first time that IHS clinics were authorized direct reimbursement for services — essentially creating mini VA clinics out of them.

Indian officials believe that not only will treatment be accessible closer to home for these veterans, but also enable them to receive treatment in a more culturally sensitive setting and milieu, according to their 2003 Memorandum of Understanding.

Disabled Servicemembers Recognized by DoD for Outstanding Performance

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

prosthetic legThe Department of Defense has formally singled out 17 wounded or disabled servicemembers or DoD employees for outstanding achievement. The 32nd Annual Department of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony was hosted December 4th by Frederick E. Vollrath, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, in the Pentagon Auditorium.

Among those recognized:

SSG Alexander Shaw, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). SSGT lost his left leg below the knee to an improvised explosive device in Ramadi, Iraq in 2006. A devoted runner, he despaired of being able to run again. But he worked closely with Bulow BioTech Prosthetics, which helped him develop a suitable prosthetic leg at no charge to the soldier. Eventually, Shaw was also able to run again, using a prosthetic foot developed by Össur. With the help of these two prosthetic devices, Shaw was able to remain on active duty. He is currently still assigned to a non-deployable section of the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he plans to do a full 20-year career in the Army.

SSG Donald G. Sistrunk, Warrior Transition Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. SSG Sistrunk was selected for the award for his tremendous and selfless dedication to helping every veteran he meets, wounded or otherwise, on duty or off. Sistrunk is the post commander of his local VFW chapter, near Ft. Hood, Texas.

Sgt. Julian P. Torres, USMC. Sgt. Torres was wounded in Afghanistan early in his deployment, on July 15, 2010, when he lost both of his legs. His wife and journey through the Navy medical system is detailed here.

Capt. Ryan Maguire, USAF. Ryan’s leg had to be amputated after a boating accident over Labor Day weekend in 2009. Capt. Maguire completed a 26-mile walk just three months after strapping on his prosthetic for the first time. Despite the injury, Capt. Maguire was able to complete his training as a U.S. Air Force pilot, and graduated from his undergraduate pilot school last year. He is the first amputee to earn USAF pilot wings.

Those were the uniformed service members honored at the ceremony. The Department of Defense also honored a number of civilian employees who themselves had overcome the obstacle of a physical disability to excel at their jobs. Their names and agencies are:

  • David L. Miller, Department of the Army
  • Bruce Baraw, Department of the Navy
  • LaVonne Rosenthal, National Guard Bureau
  • Grayson J. Colegrove, Army and Air Force Exchange Service
  • Billy W. Bowens, Defense Commissary Agency
  • Thomas G. Pisoni, Defense Contract Audit Agency
  • Samson Isaacs, Defense Contract Management Agency
  • Edward L. Bright, Defense Finance and Accounting Service
  • Sarah E. Gunn, Defense Intelligence Agency
  • John A. Clark Jr., Defense Logistics Agency
  • Carl Doeler, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Julia G. Orth, National Security Agency 

Department of Everything

Posted by Kelli McKinney

department of everythingA more narrow focus within the Department of Defense might free up nearly $68 billion over 10 years – money which would be better spent in more direct support of the military, says Senator Tom Coburn.

His recently released report, titled “Department of Everything” names what he calls duplicative and wasteful programs that he argues have little to do with our nation’s security. However, he also puts two DoD activities on the chopping block that some service members and retirees may take issue with: commissaries and elementary schools. Sen. Coburn says those two programs alone would eat up more than $24 billion in the next decade.

In his report, Sen. Coburn claims some of the more duplicitous among the DoD’s expenditures are:

  • Alternative Energy – $700 million
  • Non-Military Research and Development – $6 billion
  • Commissaries – $9 billion
  • Overhead, Support and Supply Services – $37 billion
  • Stateside DoD Elementary Schools and STEM programs – $15.2 billion

He also calls out some of the more unusual DoD projects funded by taxpayer dollars:

  • 100-year Starship Project  – $1 million
  • “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” workshop – $100,000
  • Pentagon-branded beef jerky
  • Grill it Safe, a reality cooking show featuring two “Grill Sergeants”
  • Pentagon-operated microbreweries
  • Research on social interactions between robots and babies
  • Development of a smartphone app to alert users when to take a coffee break

So if all $67.8 billion was restored to the DoD’s military spending, what would that pay for? According to Sen. Coburn that funding could cover:

  • 1/3 of the cost of the USAF’s planned fleet of new strategic bombers
  • 1/3 of the cost of replacing the Navy’s fleet of Ohio-class nuclear submarines
  • Modernization or purchase of new rifles and light machine guns for every soldier in the Army.

What do you think of the Senator’s report? Would you cut everything he suggests? Is it fair to call commissaries and elementary schools duplicitous? Do you think the DoD is like a Department of Everything? Let us know in the comments.

ACLU Sues Military to Lift Female Combat Exclusion

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

women in combatThe American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to force the military to allow women to serve in combat units. The ACLU asserts that the policy that bars women from combat billets is “outdated” and discriminatory, and that women are denied promotion opportunities as a result. About 10 percent of the 205,000 servicemembers deployed to Afghanistan are female.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of four individual plaintiffs and the Service Women’s Action Network, or SWAN.

The complaint itself, Hegar, et al. v. Panetta, can be downloaded here.

Earlier this year, the Marine Corps opened up its Infantry Officer Basic School to women. Two women volunteered. One failed the initial endurance test, while the other withdrew for medical reasons not disclosed by the Marine Corps.

Highlights from the ACLU’s complaint:

“The DoD adopted a policy in 1994 that categorically excluded women from most combat positions, primarily in the Army and Marine Corps. This policy, with minor changes, remains in effect today. Under this policy, women are barred from being assigned to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.”

“The combat exclusion policy is based on outdated stereotypes of women and ignores the realities of the modern military and battlefield conditions.”

“Those already serving in combat are not only barred from formal assignment to combat arms positions for which they have already proven themselves suited, but they are also denied the official recognition they need to advance their careers. They are prohibited from applying to certain schools, such as infantry schools, further limiting their potential for career advancement. Moreover, even though women are already serving in combat, the policy creates a presumption that women are not serving in combat, which further disadvantages women compared to men.”

“The DoD’s policy is one of the last vestiges of federal de jure discrimination against women. Nearly a century after women first earned the right of suffrage, the combat exclusion policy still denies women a core component of full citizenship — serving on equal footing in the military defense of our nation.”

“The DoD’s official and categorical exclusion of women from assignment to ground combat units harms the individual Plaintiffs, and thousands of servicewomen like them, in a variety of ways, including by denying them opportunities, training, and recognition during active service, and benefits after they have retired from service.”

“For example, over 80% of general officers in the Army came from combat arms positions, from which women are excluded.”

“A woman’s combat experience is not recognized as such, because she is only ‘attached’ but not ‘assigned’ to ground combat units, or she commands teams  that serve ‘in support of’ but are not ‘part of’ ground combat units. For some servicewomen, such as Staff Sergeant Jennifer Hunt, their combat service conducting missions with infantry troops had no formal designation at all. For others, such as Captain Alexandra Zoe Bedell and First Lieutenant Colleen Farrell, their combat service leading FETs took place entirely outside of their official career specialties. Because of the combat exclusion policy, the combat service of these and many other women cannot be given official recognition within their career fields and therefore cannot be considered in the same way it would be for men in promotion decisions.”

“As a result of the policy, women have faced challenges in obtaining benefits and treatment for combat-related stress, among other benefits, because those processing veterans’ claims do not believe that women can be ‘in combat’.”

The ACLU is asking the courts to declare the Pentagon’s ban on women in combat billets to be unconstitutional, citing the right to equal protection under the law arising from the due process clause of the 5th amendment. The ACLU further asks that the courts prohibit the Pentagon from enforcing the ban in the future.

The ACLU filed suit in federal court in the Northern District of California.

The Plaintiffs

Major Mary Hegar, a California Air National Guardsman and helicopter pilot and veteran of hundreds of air medevac missions. She received a Purple Heart when her helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan. She is also a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with a “V” device, indicating valor in combat.

Captain Zoe Bedell, USMCR. A logistics officer, Captain Bedell deployed twice to Afghanistan, where she served as an officer in charge of Female Engagement Teams (FETs). Captain Bedell states that she left the active duty Marine Corps because of the combat exclusion policy. She now works for Foros, LLC, a merger and acquisition consultancy based in New York City.

1st Lieutenant Colleen Farrell, USMC, is currently on active duty in the Marine Corps, where she served as a Female Engagement Team section leader. In that billet, she oversaw teams of women who served in direct support of infantry battalions.

 

So what do you think of the lawsuit? Do you think it’s a matter of recognizing the work women are already doing or should the policy remain in place? Tell us in the comments.

Photo Credit: Army Times

Pentagon: The First Rule of Book Club is “We Don’t Talk About Book Club”

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

describe the imageThat’s how the DoD threads the needle on how to deal with “No Easy Day,” former SEAL Matt Bissonette’s account of the raid that killed Osama Bin Ladin. Bissonette has landed in hot water because the book gets into classified or sensitive information, and he was still subject to a non-disclosure agreement, even after leaving active duty in the Navy.

The Pentagon book club wanted to read and discuss the book, as they routinely do with other professionally relevant books. But the DoD is concerned about additional leakage of classified information, or that hostile or careless parties might be able to use aspects of the book to further their knowledge of how the U.S. conducts special operations.

The ruling: The Pentagon decided not to prohibit DoD employees from reading the book – a fool’s errand, in any case. But DoD employees are prohibited from discussing the book with individuals who don’t have the proper security clearance.

According to the DoD, federal employees are not prohibited from purchasing the book. Furthermore, it is not necessary to store unmarked copies of the book in classified containers. (However, if you’ve been going through it with a red pen underlining the classified or sensitive information, you’ll need to keep that book secure and store it according to classified material handling procedures.)

You also can’t go yapping about it on Facebook or blog about it. The DoD is slapping a gag order on discussing potentially classified parts of the book via social media.

However, they’re not saying what they think the classified or potentially classified sections of the book are.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Navy announced that it had given Article 15s to seven active duty SEAL NCOs because of their moonlighting as consultants for the video game industry. According to reporting by Military Times, the seven sailors received letters of reprimand and forfeited half a months’ pay for two months for their work as advisors for Electronic Arts, the company that developed the popular Medal of Honor series of video games.