The Intersect
May 10, 2011

Report outlines progress in Afghanistan
American Forces Press Service
Last year's surge of U.S. and coalition forces into Afghanistan, with the simultaneous growth of Afghan forces, is leading to tangible progress for peace and prosperity in Afghanistan, according to a biannual Defense Department report released last week.More

DoD officials: Cutbacks won't hurt industrial base
Defense News
The Pentagon's upcoming missions and capabilities review will include an assessment of the U.S. defense industrial base, according to two senior Defense Department officials. But while defense spending is not expected to increase in the coming years, defense companies will continue to see DoD business due to current security threats.More

At the poles, the end - or the beginning - of an era
Defense Media Network
Her massive hull, driven by a gas turbine and diesel-electric engines that together generated 75,000 horsepower, could plow through ice as thick as 21 feet – six feet continuously, at a speed of three knots. She once smashed her way through to the southernmost point in Antarctica navigable by sea. One of only three ships to completely transit the Arctic Ocean and circumnavigate the North American continent, she was also the first American surface ship to reach the North Pole. And now the USCGC Polar Sea is on her way to retirement: according to the White House's 2012 budget proposal, the nearly 40-year-old Polar Sea will be decommissioned in 2011 and its crew – the only heavy icebreaker crew funded by the federal government – will be transferred to her sister ship, Polar Star.More

House panel would block Tricare fee increases
Military Times
The Defense Department has not convinced a House panel of the immediate need to increase Tricare fees for working-age retirees. The military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee proposes to prohibit retiree fee hikes, blocking the Pentagon from a 13 percent increase in enrollment fees for Tricare Prime beneficiaries that military officials had hoped would take effect as early as Oct. 1.More

VA allows caregivers of wounded vets to apply for benefits
Houston Chronicle
After a much-criticized delay, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that caregivers of severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will be able to apply for expanded benefits starting next week. President Barack Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act into law more than a year ago, but VA missed the January deadline for implementation.More

Proposal would save $3.2 billion in health care costs
American Forces Press Services
The Defense Department's proposal to reform the TRICARE health plan and the military health system would save at least $3.2 billion between 2012 and 2016, the Pentagon's chief financial officer told Congress. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee's personnel subcommittee, Robert F. Hale said the initiatives would support President Barack Obama's debt-reduction plan, which calls for reducing the federal budget $4 trillion by 2023.More

Gates urges graduates to consider public service
American Forces Press Service
U.S. public servants are the most dedicated, capable and honest in the world, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a commencement ceremony at Washington State University, in Pullman, Wash. The secretary, on the eve of his own retirement, used the podium to urge the graduates to consider dedicating at least part of their careers to some type of public service.More

VA warns that proposed change to GI Bill would cause massive tuition delays
Stars and Stripes
Another round of changes to the GI Bill could jeopardize the entire college tuition program, Veterans Affairs officials warned Congress this week. Education specialists from the department are panning pending legislation designed to counter a perceived flaw in the previous round of changes and help student veterans who soon could owe thousands of dollars in unpaid tuition.More

National Guard (in federal status) and Reserve activated as of May 3
U.S. Department of Defense
This week the Army and Navy announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, announced an increase. The net collective result is 702 more 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