The Intersect
March 29, 2011

Tom Philpott: Lawmaker bashes Reserve health readiness contractor
The Montgomery Advisor
The Army Reserve's reliance on a private contractor to conduct medical screening of drilling reservists has driven up costs and reduced readiness of medics and reserve units, said a freshman congressman who also is an Army Reserve colonel and physician. But an advocate for the contractor counters that the percentage of Army reservists medically ready to deploy within 72 hours actually has jumped over the last several years, from 24 percent to 62 percent.More

Senate GOP leader McConnell vows action on Pentagon budget in next government funding bill
The Associated Press via Canadian Business Online
The top Republican in the Senate says he's confident that Congress will adopt the Pentagon's budget when a stopgap funding bill runs out in April. Sen. Mitch McConnell says that while he'll support a three-week temporary spending measure in a vote, any further legislation to fund the government will have to include the $500 billion-plus Pentagon budget.More

2 out of 3 National Security Insiders support deeper defense cuts
National Journal
In a new survey of National Journal National Security Insiders, two out of three respondents said they would support deeper spending cuts than those proposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, with the most backing cuts in weapons-acquisition programs.More

New Armed Services Chairman is ready to be heard
The New York Times
When the House Armed Services Committee convened, it heard from the commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the most recognized military officer in America. Sitting opposite him was the new Republican committee chairman, Representative Howard P. McKeon, who is all but unknown outside his California district.More

Disabled veteran deserves state apology, job
Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez stood before more than 300 members of the Army National Guard in Santa Fe, N.M., and thanked them for rescuing thousands of New Mexicans from the deep freeze brought on by the natural gas crisis in February. "I called on you because I had full confidence that each of you would rise to the challenge, and you did," she told them. "And you did it with honor, and you did it with commitment."More

National Guard troops to leave Mexico border in June
USA Today
National Guard troops that have helped beef up security along the southwestern border since last summer will leave as planned by the second week of June, the commander of the Arizona Guard told a House panel. Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, adjutant general of the Guard in the state, said that the mission has gone well and that his troops have helped the Department of Homeland Security monitor the border and gather intelligence against the transnational crime cartels that smuggle drugs, weapons and cash across the border.More

More Purple Hearts after Army clarifies 'concussion'
USA Today
The Army will allow more battlefield concussions to be eligible for a Purple Heart, embracing the latest scientific findings that even brief periods of dizziness or headaches are evidence of the wound. The decision to expand the definition for concussions will mean thousands of Purple Heart medals going to soldiers denied them in the past.More

Students gain perspective from time on Capitol Hill
Fairfax County Times
While many students mentally check out during the second semester of their senior year, Herndon High School, Va., senior Joe Nieves, 18, checks in at his Congressional internship, which requires him to don a tie and jacket twice per week. For about 10 hours divided between two school days each week, Nieves and more than 50 fellow Herndon seniors intern for senators, representatives and lobbyists working on Capitol Hill. Internships are organized through a political science elective, which students opt into their senior year.More

Poll: Allow women in combat units
The Washington Post
Seven in 10 Americans support permitting women in the military to serve in ground units that engage in close combat, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The findings come as the Pentagon prepares to review whether women should continue to be barred from combat units even though many of them often engage opposing forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Overall, 73 percent of respondents support giving women direct combat roles, and 25 percent oppose the move. Seventy-three percent of women and 72 percent of men favor extending formal combat roles to women, as do 80 percent of self-described Democrats, 62 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of independents.More

National Guard (in federal status) and Reserve activated as of March 22
U.S. Department of Defense
This week the Army and Air Force announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard announced an increase. The net collective result is 816 fewer reservists activated than last week. At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease.More