Thursday, March 21, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Meeting with Veterans Groups Today

Secretary of Defense Hagel gives Veterans a voice in his tenure at the Department of Defense

This is one reason that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel garnered so much support among not only active duty but retirees veterans in his nomination fight with Senate Republicans.  We knew that a priority with the Secretary of Defense would be a reach out to veterans groups on how they can receive the help they need in the future.  The House GOP killed the veterans job bill last year which the military community will never forget. Saw this email in my inbox this morning from which brought a smile to my face as it is a promise kept from the Secretary of Defense that he will never forget our veterans.

Already received a few emails asking if I saw that Hagel was meeting with Veterans Groups so word is spreading that Veteran's voices will be heard at the Department of Defense under the new Secretary of Defense:
Hagel meets with more than 20 veterans groups today 
MARCH 21, 2013By Gordon Lubold   
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet with representatives from about 20 veterans and military groups for a roundtable discussion on a host of issues, from the fiscal 2014 budget to transition assistance to veterans employment to the mental health of the force.  
Who's attending today's meeting? A who's who of veterans and military groups, Situation Report is told: representatives from the Air Force Association, the American Legion, AMVETS, the Armed Services YMCA, the Association of the United States Army, Blue Star Families, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Marine Corps League, the Military Child Education Coalition, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association, the Navy League, Operation Homefront, the Reserve Officers Association, the Student Veterans of America, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the USO, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House Foundation, Inc., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Hiring Heroes Program). 
Then, tonight, Hagel boards a military jet for Tampa, where he will "RON" (remain overnight). On Friday morning, he'll have a "working breakfast" with Adm. Bill McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Then he'll preside over the change of command at U.S. Central Command, the combatant command that could be known as the tinderbox command since it's responsible for some of the countries that pose the biggest threats to international security: Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and more than a dozen others. Gen. Lloyd Austin is taking over for Gen. Jim Mattis, otherwise known as "Chaos," who is retiring. 
Staffers on a plane - Acting Chief of Staff Marcel Lettre, Senior Military Assistant Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser, and chief speechwriter Jacob Freedman. 
Reporters on a plane  - None.  
Is the Distinguished Warfare Medal the "New Coke" of medals? 
Hagel's meeting today with the veterans groups is about budgets and other issues, but the one topic that will generate the most lively discussion will be the Distinguished Warfare Medal. The medal, announced as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta walked out the door, recognizes the contributions of drone pilots -- to many, the unsung heroes of modern day warfare. But it has caused an uproar on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, and from groups across Washington. Critics decry less the creation of the medal than its "precedence" -- where it sits in the hierarchy of medals for the hierarchy-heavy military. The new medal will be above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and just below the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Many in the ground service believe its placement denigrates medals recognizing acts of merit, heroism, or valor in a combat zone since it would be typically awarded to a drone pilot who maneuvers planes remotely.
It's likely the award would only be given under rare circumstances -- and for highly classified operations. That may have contributed to the thinking in the Pentagon that its creation wouldn't have caused so many problems.

Still, although the award underwent what one Pentagon official referred to as a "serious process" and the service chiefs all apparently signed off on it, there is now widespread recognition that the vetting process should have been better. "There's a sense that all of the right  bases weren't touched and that the degree of opposition was underestimated," the official told Situation Report.

Although it wasn't his doing, Hagel confronted the controversy soon after entering office and, perhaps seeking credibility with the uniforms, directed that a study look at the award and its precedence. But the review does not necessarily mean there will be big changes. "It's not leaning in any direction," the official said.

Some officials suggest the award could be downgraded to below the Bronze Star but, possibly, still above the Purple Heart. Or, the Bronze Star and the Bronze Star with the "V" device for valor could be split into two -- an unprecedented move for awards -- giving the new Distinguished Warfare Medal precedence over the Bronze Star, but not over the Bronze Star with "V," in a move that would still put valor above joysticks. Even some of the award's most ardent supporters think changing the precedence of the medal in some form would probably be acceptable. But Dave Deptula, the retired three-star who oversaw the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, says the fight over the medal represents legacy thinking.

"We need to be able to award brains as well as brawn," he told Situation Report this week. "And doing so takes nothing away from those who risked their lives in combat. The fact of the matter is that we have moved from an era of industrial age warfare to an information age where the battle space is not defined by lines on the ground and can occur in every domain." 
Read More from the Situation Report about North Korea at Foreign
Looking forward to four years of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at DoD who is the first enlisted man to hold this prestigious position which is fitting for a man who has worked hard to get where he is today from the days of an Infantryman in Vietnam.  Looking forward to his first trip back to Capitol Hill as Secretary of Defense to face the nastiest bunch of Republican Senators I have witnessed in a hearing.  Wonder if Sen Cruz of TX will bring up 'Friends of Hamas' again?  Sorry, couldn't resist.  Still cannot believe those hearings of Hagel's filled with half-truths and outright lies against the former Senator from NE.

Have to admit that the funniest part of the article comes from his visit to Tampa later today:
Reporters on a plane  - None. 
That made me laugh as it is so fitting that no DC press is accompanying the Secretary of Defense on his trip to CENTCOM.  Bet President Obama would love to leave some of the White House Press Corps behind when he travels like NBC's Chuck Todd who made a fool of himself once again this time in Israel when he asked questions not one question:
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both jabbed at NBC's Chuck Todd for asking multiple questions at a press conference in Israel on Wednesday

Time for a restart on the White House Press Corps - out with a lot of the old like Chuck Todd - in with new, younger reporters who seem better fitted for the task.  Maybe some younger reporters have actually filled out the NCAA Basketball Tournament Brackets like the President.  Todd is just one of many jerks in the White Press Corps.  Don't see how the Press Secretary Carney handles all the dumb questions thrown at him in his Press Conferences from the White House and on the Presidential trips.  

Bet President Obama didn't realize he was going to explode GOP heads when he filled out his Bracketology picks for the NCAA Tournament as Speaker Boehner used the moment to insert politics about the budget.  Then GOP heads are exploding all over on how well he gets along with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who he calls Bibi which Republicans hate.  Whiners!  Then there is one of my most disliked WH Reporters Chuck Todd getting outed for being the jerk he is with his questions in Israel. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is meeting with Veterans Groups today and flying to CENTCOM in Tampa with "no press".  To top it all off, the NCAA Tournament is underway.  Good week so far when you ignore the Congress and RNC.

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