By Rick Rogers – Defensetracker.com
Another curious mix of military and veterans stories this week ranging from the merely interesting to budding game changers.
Some of the bigger stories included proposed revisions to the military retirement system, the prospects of a U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan past 2014, the unveiling of Defense Department polices aimed at curbing military sexual assaults and bestowing benefits in same-sex marriages.
But let’s start with some light housekeeping.
Major changes are afoot at the military’s major commands in an effort to save money and streamline operations.
Those changes include:
— Combining Northern and Southern commands to form the “Americas Command”
— Splitting the Africa Command between European Command and Central Command.
— Expanding Pacific Command to include Afghanistan and Pakistan.
While the last word on realignment is sometime away, preliminary estimates suggest that 5,000 military and civilian positions could go away under the proposal.
* In a related story, the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa faces a makeover of its own.
An idea taking shape would change SoCom’s structure to allow working with foreign militaries easier, or so one version of the story goes.
Not everyone, however, is onboard with the changes. Next month commanders will meet to hash out details.
* There’s no shortage of opinions surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Love it or hate it, it’s coming.
Ten-percenters — roughly the slice of American who once served in uniform – are asking what the ACA means to them and their families.
Well, the Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a website to answer precisely that.
To find out more, go to www.va.gov/health/aca.
* For years now, the Pentagon has carped on about the high cost of the military retirement system.
Former Sec. Def. Robert Gates bemoaned the issue about as often as he changed socks. Leon Panetta, his successor, picked up the tale-of-woe baton thereafter and ran with it.
Now that the Greek Chorus is gaining more voices with generals complaining about the costs eating into readiness and procurement, something might get done.
More then two million retirees and survivors collect upwards of $50 billion each year, and Defense Department officials fear that amount could double in 20 years.
* About time. The Air Force Academy is getting its first female superintendent since the doors opened in 1954.
Rhodes Scholar Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson is the new Big General On Campus at the Colorado Springs institution.
* The ballad of Bradley Manning the Kid continued this week.
Read more here.
Rick Rogers is an Army veteran and defense reporter who’s covered military and defense issues for nearly 30 years. Read more of his stuff by clicking here.
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