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Volume 6, No. 24 ©SS 2014

FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2014

AFGHANISTAN

Obama, facing few options, sets number for post-war troops:

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COVER STORY

Obama has few options for post-war Afghanistan

President Barack Obama shakes hands during a troop rally at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, during an unannounced visit on Sunday. EVAN VUCCI /AP

BY TRAVIS J. TRITTEN Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama chose one of the few political paths open to him Tuesday when he announced plans to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 9,800 by the end of the year — picking an option that satisfies public desire to end the war without immediately abandoning the troubled country after years of blood and sacrifice. The president has long promised to end a war that many Americans no longer support after 13 years. He is also clearly mindful of the criticism that the U.S. departure from Iraq in 2011 was too quick, a charge that ANALYSIS has stuck as that country now faces an armed challenge from al-Qaida and other insurgents. Choosing to keep 9,800 troops on the ground at least for another year puts an official period at the end of the story of America’s military role in Afghanistan while maintaining a commitment to a country where more than 2,100 U.S. troops died. His decision is part of a broader effort to redirect U.S. foreign policy away from the wars after 9/11 while continuing counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “The bottom line is there is time to turn the page in a decade where so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama said Tuesday. By the end of 2015, the number of troops would be cut in half and then replaced by a small embassy staff in 2016. About 2,120 Americans have died and 17,674 have been wounded since the U.S.

‘The bottom line’ invaded Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden and al Qaida leadership after the 9/11 attacks. But the war was largely eclipsed by the conflict in Iraq, which drew more attention and more resources until the Taliban had rebounded. By the time Obama ordered a 2009 troop surge — raising the number of U.S. troops by 30,000 to more than 100,000 — the American public had grown war-weary after two long conflicts. The killing of bin Laden in 2011 convinced many Americans that the need to continue the war was gone. Three years after bin Laden’s death, 48 percent of all Americans think the war itself was a mistake, according to a Gallup poll in February — a dramatic increase from 6 percent opposition in 2002. According to a Pew Research Center poll also in February, 52 percent of Americans now think the U.S. cannot achieve its goals in Afghanistan. Such poll numbers would make it difficult for any president to sustain the war and the Obama administration, keenly aware of the falling support, has been eager to find an exit. The administration consid-

ered pulling all troops from the country at the end of the year but military leadership had argued for a minimum of 10,000 to keep up training of Afghan security forces and maintain counterterrorism operations. Some in the Pentagon wanted at least 13,500 to stay after the war’s end, said Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But Obama decided on a number just under the minimum advised by military leaders. The postwar plan also creates a hard timeline and places no conditions on the scheduled reductions from 9,800 — something that drew criticism from Capitol Hill and elsewhere for telegraphing information to the enemy.

“We have been rushing to get to 2014 at the expense of real Afghan readiness,” he said. Despite the appearance of rush to the exits, the president’s plan may get what passes for a good political reception in Washington, where the administration has faced fire from both sides of the aisle. Republicans are likely to support a continued troop presence but oppose the time line, said Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Meanwhile, Democrats are likely to go along with Obama’s post-war plan for Afghanistan, though there is likely to be complaining about the president’s lack of movement on liberal causes such as closing the detention facility at

‘ Basically, the administration wants to

make sure Afghanistan doesn’t go to hell in a handbasket after we leave. I think most people would see it as wise.

Larry J. Sabato director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reining in targeted drone killings, Sabato said. “Basically, the administration wants to make sure Afghanistan doesn’t go to hell in a handbasket after we leave,” he said. “I think most people would see it as wise.” On Tuesday afternoon, the political machine in Washington was in full swing following the Obama address as Republicans began hammering the president on his timeline. “Even now, an al-Qaida safe haven is emerging in northeastern Afghanistan, and I question whether the enemy will take further advantage of the announced timeline to renew its efforts to launch new operations, as we see them attempting in Iraq and Syria today,” Rep. Mike Rogers, RMich., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a released statement. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., called the announcement of a timeline a “monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy.” tritten.travis@stripes.com Twitter: @Travis_Tritten

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COVER STORY

EVAN VUCCI /AP

President Barack Obama, center, is briefed by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, right, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham after arriving at Bagram Air Field on Sunday.

Troops in Afghanistan: by the numbers BY JON H ARPER Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON — Months after the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan told lawmakers that 10,000 American troops were needed to complete the mission there, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said there will be 9,800 in country at the start of 2015, half that at the end of 2015, and a “normal” ANALYSIS embassy presence at the end of 2016, just weeks before his presidency ends. The projected force levels are contingent upon the Afghan government signing the Bilateral Security Agreement that has been negotiated. The Obama administration has said that if the BSA isn’t inked, all American troops will be withdrawn by the end of this year. The BSA provides legal protections for U.S. military personnel operating in country. The two Afghan presidential candidates involved in the nation’s runoff election have said that they will sign the agreement if they are elected.

There are approximately 32,000 American troops in Afghanistan today, down from a peak of about 100,000 that was reached following the troop surge that Obama initiated a few months after taking office. Obama said the post-2014 mission would be narrowly focused on training Afghan National Security Forces and supporting counterterrorism missions against the remnants of al Qaida. The U.S. “combat mission” will be over by the end of this year, and the ANSF will be responsible for securing Afghanistan, according to Obama. The issue of troop levels in Afghanistan has sparked wide disagreement, often pitting administration officials against military experts. White House officials had floated the idea of leaving behind a much smaller force. Vice President Joe Biden reportedly recommended leaving as few as 1,000 troops for counterterrorism purposes only. There was even talk of a “zero option,” whereby all American troops would have been withdrawn. Some commanders called for leaving behind far more troops than Dunford requested. In Congressional testimony

in January 2013, the outgoing commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, recommended leaving 20,000 troops in Afghanistan post-2014. U.S. officials hope NATO America’s European allies will contribute a few thousand troops of their own to the post-2014 mission. Decisions about the size of NATO’s future presence in Afghanistan will likely be made next month, according to officials. “We expect that our allies will be with us going forward,” Obama said in his speech. But a senior administration official said the 9,800 troops will be “sufficient” to achieve U.S. goals, even without NATO support. Officials said Obama’s decision about Afghanistan should be viewed in the larger context of global threats and priorities. “This makes sense from our national security interests precisely because of the way in which the counterterrorism mission and threat has changed. Again, as we have seen al-Qaida’s core push back, and we’ve seen regional affiliates seek to gain a foothold in differ-

ent parts of the Middle East and North Africa, what makes sense is a strategy that is not designed for the threat as it existed in 2001 or 2004. We need a strategy for how it exists in 2014 and 2016, and that is going to involve far more partnership and support across this entire region and less of the type of presence that the United States had in Afghanistan over the last 13 years,” a senior administration official said. “The bottom line is, it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama said. “When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm’s way. By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000. In addition to bringing our troops home, this new chapter in American foreign policy will allow us to redirect some of the resources saved by ending these wars to respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism while addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe.” harper.jon@stripes.com Twitter: @JHarperStripes


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MILITARY

GIs join Eager Lion exercises in Jordan BY H ENDRICK SIMOES Stars and Stripes

Eager Lion, a two-week, 22-nation exercise that includes 6,000 U.S. troops, has kicked off in Jordan. In all, more than 12,000 personnel will take part. This fourth annual Jordanian-led exercise focuses on a wide range of offensive and defensive operations that include disaster relief, strategic communication and rescue operations. Officials say the training will use a wide variety of air, land and sea assets at multiple training areas throughout Jordan. “Those relationships we build here during the exercise will be enduring ones that ensure our success in future

Cpl. Kyle Wellmon illustrates U.S. Marine tactics to a Jordanian soldier by using rocks and drawing lines in the sand during a joint patrol in Al Quweira, Jordan, in 2013.

joint endeavors,” Maj. Gen. Robert Catalanotti, the U.S. Central Command director of exercises and training, said during opening remarks at a news conference Tuesday in Jordan. Participating U.S. forces come from special operations and Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed to the region as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. Those forces will employ armor, artillery, engineer and mechanized units, and will be supported by various types of aircraft. As with last year, the exercise is taking place in the shadow of the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria that threatens to destabilize the region. The conflict has caused nearly 600,000 refugees to come across the border into Jordan, putting a strain on the country’s economy and infrastructure, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. After last year’s Eager Lion exercise, the Pentagon left behind a detachment of F-16s and U.S. Patriot missiles at the request of the Jordanian government. Last week, the Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said there are no plans to leave any U.S. forces behind this year, in response to a reporter’s question. Eager Lion will run until June 8. simoes.hendrick@stripes.com Twitter: @hendricksimoes

PHOTOS

BY

HENDRICK SIMOES/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Marine Cpl. Kyle Wellmon shakes hands with a Jordanian soldier during a joint reconnaissance patrol June 12, 2013, in Al Quweira, Jordan. The patrol was carried out with Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit during last year’s Eager Lion exercise.

Issues in Africa complicate US counterterror training Stars and Stripes

U.S. special operations forces are attempting to build small teams of elite counterterror fighters in four African countries as part of a Pentagon program targeting al-Qaida-affiliated groups, but the effort is struggling to get off the ground as the military confronts a host of challenges in the region, The New York Times reported. The Pentagon has been working to train special operations units in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali, where concerns have been growing over groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the Times reported online Monday.

The effort involves members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force. The Defense Department is spending nearly $70 million to help train a counterterrorism battalion in Niger as well as a similar unit in Mauritania. The initiatives are still in the “formative stages,” a senior DOD official told the Times. Meanwhile, $16 million was allotted by the Pentagon to train and equip two companies of Libyan troops and their support elements, which also involved an attempt to train troops at a secret military compound outside of Tripoli. That ended in August after militiamen stormed the base, stealing

“hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, vehicles and other equipment,” the Times reported. “As a result, the training was halted and the American instructors were sent home,” the Times reported. Officials from both countries have been looking for a more secure training site, but American officials are rethinking how they select local personnel to train, the Times reported. Such incidents underscore the challenges of building counterterrorism teams in regions where resources are limited, the security environment is risky and regional

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effort to build elite teams in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali is the latest signal that the Pentagon and its Africa Command remain focused on the effort to push local forces into the lead. At the same time, the U.S. has been bolstering its network of surveillance aircraft on the continent, which includes a facility in Niger aimed at assisting French forces operating against militants in Mali as well as a more recent drone site in Chad, which supports international efforts to locate nearly 300 girls kidnapped by extremists in Nigeria.

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partners are unpredictable. The training effort in Mali, for example, is struggling as the country attempts to recover from a military coup that upended political order. For more than a decade, the U.S. military has been gradually building up its counterterror programs across Africa, with a particular focus on training indigenous troops to lead the effort. Both conventional and elite U.S. units have been involved in the mission, which has included training Ugandan soldiers to fight militants in Somalia as well as western African forces to take part in the fight against militants in Mali. The new

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EUROPE

DOD to save $60M after Europe sites are dropped BY JOHN VANDIVER

The DOD said the following sites are scheduled to be returned to their respective host nations:

Germany U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria  Garmisch golf course, Garmisch, Germany, no longer used.  Breitenau skeet range, Garmisch, Germany, no longer used.  General Abrams hotel and dispensary, Garmisch, Germany, no longer needed with Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch.  Frechetsfeld radio site, Grafenwoehr, Germany, no longer required.

Stars and Stripes

A military golf course, a hotel and a skeet range are among the 21 facilities that will be given up across Europe in connection with a Pentagon review aimed at shedding excess infrastructure on the Continent, the Pentagon announced last week. Every major installation in Europe, however, survived the cuts. The Defense Department emphasized that none of the closures will affect the size of the force in Europe, which now stands at just under 70,000 troops. The cuts to unneeded facilities will allow U.S. European command to focus resources on higher-priority missions, Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary said on May 23. “It doesn’t at all change our military capability on the continent or degrade in any way our readiness to meet our security commitments there in Europe,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon. For more than a year, the Defense Department has been conducting what has been characterized as a “BRAClike” review of infrastructure in Europe. The review, dubbed the European Infrastructure Consolidation, resulted in widespread speculation among personnel at many bases in Europe that their installation could be on the chopping block. Instead of cutting major installations, a series of nonoperational sites, including outdated and excess family housing facilities, recreation sites and storage depots, were selected for closure. In all, the DOD said, the moves will save $60 million annually. Facilities were affected across a wide swath of the EUCOM area of operation, stretching from Germany

Sites to be relinquished

‘ It doesn’t at all change our military

capability on the continent or degrade in any way our readiness to meet our security commitments ... in Europe.

Rear Adm. John Kirby Pentagon press secretary and Spain to Italy, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Greece. The department continues looking for more unneeded infrastructure to shutter, Kirby said. “It’s an ongoing process and it will continue,” he said. “This is sort of the first tranche of what I suspect will be other changes to come.” The decision comes as security challenges in Europe have returned to the forefront. Since the end of the Cold War, during which as many as 400,000 U.S. personnel were stationed on the Continent, the military has shuttered hundreds of facilities both big and small. In the year ahead, Army garrisons in Schweinfurt and Bamberg, Germany, also will close as part of earlier Army transformation decisions. In recent years, some lawmakers have singled out Europe as a place to achieve

more savings, describing the military presence there as a bloated Cold War relic amid calls for a major downsizing on the Continent. Since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, the EUCOM mission appears to have taken on new significance as the West wrestles with how to manage a resurgent Russia. Kirby said EUCOM’s forward presence serves as a tangible commitment to allies in Europe, underpinning the U.S.’s commitment to the collective defense of its European partners. “U.S. dedication to our NATO security responsibilities is beyond doubt; ongoing infrastructure adjustments simply ensure that we are best-positioned to fulfill those responsibilities given changing circumstances,” the Pentagon stated in a news release. Stars and Stripes reporter Chris Carroll contributed to this report. vandiver.john@stripes.com

U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden  Wiesbaden recreation center, Wiesbaden, Germany, no longer required.  Fintherlandstrasse family housing, Wiesbaden, Germany, no longer needed with off-post housing available and less expensive.  Kastel housing area, Mainz-Kastel, Germany (in 2016), no longer required. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz  Closure of three American Forces Network AM sites: Heidelberg AFN relay facility, Sembach AFN facility and Weisskirchen AFN transmitter facility.  Hill 365 radio relay facility; alternate communications make this site unnecessary.  Three Sembach water well sites: Enkenbach Water System Annex #1, Neukirchen Water System Annex #1 and Niedermehlingerhof Water System Annex #1. Giessen  The Giessen General Depot will no longer be required once the Army & Air Force Exchange Service

distribution center relocates. Spangdahlem Air Base  Siegenburg Range, Bavaria, Germany, no longer in use nor needed.

Italy U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza  Tirrenia Recreation Site, no longer required. Navy South Bagnoli-Naples  Former NATO headquarters facility, no longer required due to consolidation. NATO HQ Air Force South, Nisida Island-Naples  Provided support services, no longer needed. Port Customs Office, Catania-Sigonella  Lease not renewed as part of facilities consolidation.

Denmark Karup Air Base  Munitions storage and airfield facilities, no longer used or needed.

Greece National Support Element Larissa  Support services facility, no longer required due to consolidation.

United Kingdom RAF Mildenhall  Ammunition storage annex, facilities are not in use and not required. RAF Feltwell  15 housing units (partial return), excess housing requirements.

Belgium U.S. Army Garrison Benelux  Daumerie Caserne (in 2015), facilities consolidation. A small signal support element will move to a nearby location.


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PACIFIC

FLASHPOINT IN PACIFIC? Military’s reduced readiness seen as emboldening China, Russia BY WYATT OLSON Stars and Stripes When the U.S. could be making a show of strength toward China and Russia as several Pacific flashpoints heat up, it is instead mired in debates about military readiness, troop reductions and deep budget cuts. The result could be a series of opportunistic “bites-of-anapple” provocations that fall below the level that would trigger a U.S. military response, eroding confidence in America’s commitment to help current and possible future allies, analysts say. This month, China floated a mobile oil-drilling rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, setting off a standoff of flotillas in which Hanoi claims two of its ships were rammed. Violent riots in Vietnam have left dozens of ethnic Chinese ILLUSTRATION

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injured or dead. Just to the west, China recently began preparations for what the Philippines described as a possible military airstrip on a reef in the Spratley Islands, which both countries claim. Meanwhile, Russia has intensified its presence in the Pacific — including long-range air patrols off the coast of California and near the U.S. territory of Guam — to gather intelligence and display its military might. The Japan Air Self Defense Force almost doubled its number of scrambles against Russian aircraft in the 12 months leading up to March compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, North Korea has been ratcheting up its rhetoric amid what appear to be preparations for its fourth underground nuclear weapons test. Experts say that flagging readiness — real or perceived — weakens America’s “deterrent effect” on aggressors in the Pacific, even though President Barack Obama made reassurances to allies during his recent Asia trip that America’s commitment remains strong to help if conflict breaks out. Adding to the dilemma is the difficulty in objectively determining the state of military readiness, a process that one expert calls “operating in the blind.”

SEE PAGE 12

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PACIFIC from page FROM PAGE 11 8

In Congressional testimony, top-ranking military chiefs have warned that readiness is deteriorating, partly because of cuts from last year’s sequester. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, testified before a Senate subcommittee in March that he was concerned about the readiness of “follow-on forces” that would be required should the peninsula enter crisis. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. John Amos told the same committee last fall that budget cuts leave “fewer forces, arriving less trained, arriving later in the fight.” “We’ve had a stream of testimony from the different service chiefs and other key general and flag officers this spring where they have bemoaned the state of military forces,” said Dakota Wood, a defense expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington. This ultimately reduces military options in the Pacific, which does not go unnoticed by China and Russia, he said. “When it comes to China, we are seeing increasing aggressiveness in trying to push forward their territorial claims in the East and South China Seas,” he said. “China is likely viewing this as a window of opportunity to aggressively press its claims in these waters, and the U.S. is not well postured to come to the assistance of friends and allies in the region. “There’s this deterrent value in being strongly forward, being strongly postured and having the perception that not only are your forces ready for action, but that the government in the U.S. is willing to press that case if it comes to it.” Reduced readiness cuts two ways, said Todd Harrison, a defense expert with the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. “I think this reduction in readiness that we’re looking at will reduce our confidence in the ability of our military to intervene successfully if called upon,” he said. “That may weaken the deterrent effect on potential adversaries, but it could also create a situation where we self-deter.”

DAVID N. HERSEY/Courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps

Marine Cpl. Jared M. Cantu uses an improvised model to explain his plan of attack during urban operations training on May 7 at the Central Training Area in Okinawa, Japan. Continuous training keeps troops ready for potential conflict in the Pacific, but cuts in readiness funding could be affecting America’s influence in the region. Confrontations such as those over the oil rig in Vietnamese waters and islands near the Philippines aren’t the kind that would require deep follow-on forces from the U.S., even it did intervene, said Anthony Cordesman, a defense expert at the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “You’re not going to go to general war over an EEZ or

See an interactive map highlighting Pacific hot spots stripes.com/go/flashpoints

a reef somewhere in the Pacific,” he said. It’s possible those “limited contingencies” could escalate to levels no one anticipated, Cordesman said, but the U.S. has “an awful lot of forces that limit that escalation.” And those examples shouldn’t be equated with a potential outbreak of hostilities on the Korean peninsula because the U.S. is prepared and willing to match escalation there, he said. Still, Wood said this “pattern of conduct” by China and Russia should be looked at as “small bites of an apple,” which over time will consume it. “So each one of these little actions is below the threshold that would invite a large-scale conventional military response,” he said. “But they’re willing and able to take these small bites because they know the U.S., by this series of incidents, is unwilling to press the case.” Cordesman said he thinks a stronger military pushback by

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the U.S. could lead to unintended escalation. “The problem is that the United States responding — even if it solves one small, short-term problem — may lead to the other side responding in ways that again produce a steady pattern of escalation,” he said. Judging by the testimony of the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier this month during a Senate hearing on the Pentagon’s proposal to reduce compensation and benefits for troops, the services aren’t hankering for a greater show of force in the Pacific. If Congress doesn’t approve those compensation cuts, the Air Force will consider cutting $8.1 billion from readiness, modernization and infrastructure accounts over the next five years, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III told a Senate committee. “We’ll take significant cuts to flying hours and weapons system sustainment accounts, reduce precision munitions buys and lower funding for training ranges, digging our

readiness hole even deeper,” Welsh said. Harrison said the current debate highlights the need for the Pentagon to develop actual “output” measurements of readiness. Currently it provides Congress with “inputs,” such as the number of hours flown or level of maintenance of equipment, but that leaves lawmakers “operating in the blind,” Harrison said. He proposes the Defense Department begin reporting actual performance in training and exercises as a basis for judging readiness. “The department tests like this already,” he said. “Fighter pilots are tested on a fairly regular basis on doing different types of bombing missions, doing air-to-air combat, and they’re already being scored. “It’s just a matter of collecting, aggregating and tracking that information from individual and unit level all the way up to joint force level. And right now they’re not doing that.” olson.wyatt@stripes.com


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MILITARY

Officials quiet on reduced post allowance in S. Korea BY A SHLEY ROWLAND Stars and Stripes

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea and the State Department are mum about what led to a sudden cut in post allowance for South Koreabased government employees and what they are doing to address the issue, which USFK commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti has called a “priority.” The post allowance rate dropped to 0 percent of disposable income on May 4, after hovering at 15 percent to 20 percent this year. In a May 16 letter to the command’s civilian employees, Scaparrotti said only that

the change was the result of a recent State Department-managed survey. In an email May 22 to Stars and Stripes, a State Department spokesperson said the agency “is aware of the concerns of the military community regarding the impact of this latest survey and is looking into the issue.” Neither the State Department nor USFK would address questions about whether the cut was an error, whether it was expected to be reinstated, and how many civilians are affected. Post allowance is given to U.S. government employees stationed overseas in a loca-

tion where the cost of living is substantially higher than in Washington, allowing them to spend the same portion of their basic compensation for living expenses without seeing a reduction in their living standards. South Korea-based civilians saw their first reduced paycheck for the May 4-17 pay period. In his letter, Scaparrotti said he is “very concerned about the effect this will have on you and your families.” “I feel very strongly about protecting your pay, so I will work this issue as a priority,” he added. rowland.ashley@stripes.com

US ordnance disposal team to aid Balkans Stars and Stripes

The U.S. is sending civilian explosive ordnance disposal experts to Serbia and BosniaHerzegovina to help survey areas where land mines may have been moved or uncovered by recent flooding, the State Department announced Sunday. The Quick Reaction Force team from the State Department’s Bureau of PoliticalMilitary Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement arrived Monday to work with Mine Action centers in

both countries “to survey land mine contaminated areas” affected by the flooding, according to a State Department news release. An estimated 120,000 land mines remain from the Bosnian war, and the recent flooding and resulting landslides swept away minefield warning signs and dislodged buried mines, according to local officials. Officials have warned that the mines could be carried downstream to other countries in the region. Local demining companies

Max D. Lederer Jr., Publisher Terry Leonard, Editorial Director Tina Croley, Enterprise Editor Amanda L. Trypanis, U.S. Edition Editor Michael Davidson, Revenue Director CONTACT US 529 14th Street NW, Suite 350 Washington, D.C. 20045-1301 Email: stripesweekly@stripes.com Editorial: (202) 761-0908 Advertising: (202) 761-0910 Daniel Krause, Weekly Partnership Director: krause.dan@stripes.com Additional contact information: stripes.com

and the Serbian and Bosnian military demining units “are very well versed in regular demining operations, but they will be facing clearance operations in unfamiliar circumstances — assessing large areas, clearing mines from landslides, and conducting underwater demining,” the news release said. Last week, the Defense Department announced it was providing relief items to Bosnia-Herzegovina, including water purification units, cots and sleeping bags, as well as generators and fuel.

This publication is a compilation of stories from Stars and Stripes, the editorially independent newspaper authorized by the Department of Defense for members of the military community. The contents of Stars and Stripes are unofficial, and are not to be considered as the official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. government, including the Defense Department or the military services. The U.S. Edition of Stars and Stripes is published jointly by Stars and Stripes and this newspaper. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts or supplements, does not constitute endorsement by the DOD or Stars and Stripes of the products or services advertised. Products or services advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use, or patronage without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user, or patron.

© Stars and Stripes, 2014

JIM CROCKETT

MEMORIAL

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May 30, 2014 Friday, May 30, 2014

‘His Wife’ dedicates life to service, too Two words can say a lot during difficult days, making about a military spouse. Espethe best of the worst times and cially when those words are on celebrating the better ones. a gravestone. His wife: the one who sent On my first visit to Arlingletters, packages or emails to ton National Cemetery, while overseas addresses and prayed walking through section for replies that would prove 13, I noticed a row of very her husband was still out there, similar markers. Each of the somewhere; the one who regravestones facing me had a ceived the telegram, the knock woman’s first name, a date and on the door or news from the two words: “His Wife.” doctor that he wouldn’t come “Whose wife?” I wondered home again. for a moment. As we walked His wife: the one who took farther on, I looked back and pride in her family’s service realized I had read the backs of and who — throughout a the markers first. military career — packed and On the front of each was unpacked her life over and carved the name of a soldier, over again; the one who carved sailor, airman or Marine. The out a career SPOUSE CALLS or took a job names on the opposite sides indicated that each of these to help make servicemembers shared a ends meet; resting place with his mate, the one who joined in life, reunited in death. worked to The carvings I had first seen make each memorialized a wife who new commuwas buried in a plot with her nity a better husband. place. After I realized the sigIn every nificance, I began to notice sense, Terri Barnes similarly marked headstones there’s more throughout to military the cemetery. Join the conversation with Terri at spouses than stripes.com/go/spousecalls This is often the bare dehow military scription “His couples are Wife.” Those buried at Arlington, to make words on the opposite side of the most of coveted — and a veteran’s gravestone record finite — hallowed ground. more than a marriage and a Every stone that marks the death. They also record the burial of a military member shared service and sacrifice represents a story that one demanded by military life. I grave marker could never tell. didn’t see any stones marked It might be a story of a loss that “husband,” but I’m sure they came early or one about a long are there, too. life of service. Either way, each On a visit to the National one represents memories that Mall in Washington, D.C., I could only be etched on the noticed the monuments in our hearts of loved ones. nation’s capital bear witness to Every stone that marks the sacrifice as much as to victory, burial of a military member from Martin Luther King Jr., also represents the other side to Abraham Lincoln. This is of the story. The other side of especially true for military the gravestone, reserved for memorials. Each name on the the name of a spouse, repreVietnam Veterans Memorial, sents an important part of the each star at the National World story of every servicemember, War II Memorial represents also one that doesn’t fit in such 100 lives offered and lost in limited space. service to our nation. The two words — possessive Reading the backs of the pronoun and noun — repeated gravestones at Arlington on many headstones, “His brought home the reality that Wife,” convey more than marithe names, the stars and the tal status. For the spouse of a stones also represent the sacriservicemember, they indicate fices of military families. another life dedicated to miliTerri Barnes writes Spouse Calls tary service. weekly for Stars and Stripes. His wife: the one who stayed home during wartime, who For more about Arlington on took care of the rest of the its 150th anniversary, go to family while her husband was stripes.com/arlington150 away; the one who was strong

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Veteran Owned Businesses New Horizons Telecom Inc

901 Cope Industrial Way Palmer, AK 99456 (907) 761-6124 www.nhtiusa.com/contact.html

Nite Shift Janitorial Service

1305 W Ridgeview Dr Wasilla, AK 99654 (907) 373-7905 www.niteshiftjanitorial.com

Northwestern Surgical Repair

8460 E 20th Ave Anchorage, AK 99504 (907) 338-9099 www.nwsurgicalrepair.com

Pioneer GI Clinic

4048 Laurel St Ste 301 Anchorage, AK 99508 (907) 440-7816 www.pioneergiclinic.com/Pioneer_GI_Clinic/Home.html

Pollux Aviation Ltd

6205 E Beechcraft Circ Wasilla, AK 99654 (907) 746-0673 www.polluxaviation.net

Scheduleze

12110 Business Blvd Ste 6 PMB 335, Eagle River AK 99577 (907) 223-4958 www.scheduleze.com

Sequestered Solutions Alaska LLC

801 B St Ste 102 Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 868-8678 www.sequesteredsolutions.com

The Printer

2415 Spenard Rd Anchorage, AK 99503 (907) 258-5700 www.theprinterak.com

Veteran Environmental Consulting

2410 W 29th Ave Apt 3 Anchorage, AK 99517 (907) 727-7797 www.vetenviron.com/

AAA Billiards Sales & Service

1040 E 5th Ave Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 278-7665 www.alaskabilliards.com

Alpine Septic Pumping Inc

700 Vine Rd Wasilla, AK 99654 (907) 373-2120 www.alpineseptic.com

Alaska Quality Publishing Inc

2203 Sorbus Way Anchorage, AK 99508 (907) 277-3131 www.stasercg.com

Veteran’s Alaska Construction LLC

10613 Lafayette Cir Anchorage, AK 99515 (907) 339-9565 www.veteransalaska.com/

8537 Corbin Dr Anchorage, AK 99507 (907) 562-9300 www.aqppublishing.com

Teeple Cabinets and Construction

A-1 Copy Systems LLC

1120 E 5th Ave Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 277-7555 www.arcticcontrols.com

Ads-b Technologies LLC

15908 E Helmaur Pl Palmer, AK 99654 (907) 746-5442 www.arcticskyexcavating.com

Staser Group LLC

4006 B W Tweed Ct Wasilla, AK 99654 (907) 715-4090 www.teepleconstructionllc.com

Terrasat Inc

1413 W 31st Ave Anchorage, AK 99503 (907) 344-9370 www.terrasatinc.com

600 W Northern Lights Blvd Ste A Anchorage, AK 99503 (907) 349-3224 www.a1alaska.com

900 Merrill Field Dr Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 258-2372 www.ads-b.com

Arctic Controls Inc

Arctic Sky Excavating

Automated Laundry Systems and Supply Corp 5020 Fairbaks St Anchorage, AK 99503 (907) 771-0103 www.autolaundrysystems.com

Bradshaw and Associates

2300 E 76th Ave Ste 1222 Anchorage, AK 99518 (907) 522-7205 www.bardshawandassociates.com

Bering Global Logistics LLC

1800 W 48th Ave Anchorage, AK 99517 (907) 351-9943 www.beringglobal.com

All Pro Alaska

6627 Rosewood St Anchorage, AK 99518 (907) 338-5438 www.bjlift.com

Blind Factory

10800 Northfleet Dr Anchorage, AK 99515 (907) 344-4600 www.blindfactoryak.hdspd.com


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