Around the Force

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A spot check of events happening in the military

Senior Defense officials
urge security approval

American Forces Press Service
The United States wants the Afghan government to sign a proposed bilateral security agreement “as soon as possible,” a senior Defense Department official with responsibility for Afghanistan told Congress Dec. 11.
The agreement had been under negotiation for months, and received tentative approval in November by a council of Afghan elders known as a loya jirga, who urged President Hamid Karzai to sign it by the end of this year.
The accord would clear the way for a continued U.S and allied troop presence in Afghanistan after the current NATO mission ends in December 2014.
But Karzai has said he will not sign the bilateral security agreement until after April’s presidential election, and the accord would still have to be submitted to the Afghan parliament for ratification.
ID cards available
for same-sex couples

American Forces Press Service
All eligible service members, dependents and retirees—including same-sex couples—are now able to obtain Defense Department identification cards in every state, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday.
On Oct. 31, Hagel called on the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with the adjutants general of several states to fully implement Defense Department policy by providing DoD ID cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation.
The entire Defense Department is committed to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve the nation, the secretary said.
Cosby does comedy show
on air for troops

American Forces Network
American Forces Network viewers can tweet live with Bill Cosby during the network’s airing of “Far From Finished,” the comedian’s first TV comedy special in 30 years.
The Comedy Central special will air Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. Japan Korea Time on AFN Prime Pacific, and at 9 p.m. Central European Time on AFN Prime Atlantic.
Viewers may interact with Cosby by tweeting to @billcosby and including the hashtag #AFNCosbyTroops.
In an entertainment career that has spanned five decades, the Navy veteran and honorary Navy chief petty officer started in the 1960s as a stand-up comedian with multiple best-selling records and five Grammy Awards. He broke television’s racial barrier as the first African-American to co-star in a dramatic TV series with his role on TV’s “I Spy,” which aired from 1965 to 1968. He is perhaps best known for “The Cosby Show,” which aired from 1984 to 1992. He has earned three Emmy awards.
Air Force budget woes
force ‘tectonic shift’

American Forces Press Service
Budget battles are causing tectonic shifts in the Air Force, the service’s leaders said during a Pentagon news conference Friday.
Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning and Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, said that even with some relief from sequestration, the service will pay the bills via force structure, modernization and readiness.
How this occurs will affect what the service will look like in 2023, when sequestration ends, they said.
The proposed budget deal making its way through Congress would mitigate some near-term readiness problems, Welsh said, and Air Force leaders will put any money Congress approves beyond sequestration into training and maintenance accounts.
Still, he said, this doesn’t change the long-term picture, noting that sequestration poses a “Sophie’s Choice” dilemma for the Air Force. Does the service choose to keep near-term readiness high at the expense of force modernization, or vice versa?
One example of this conundrum is the close air support mission. The Air Force is studying proposals on how best to carry out this core mission, the general said. One proposal would eliminate the A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft—the aircraft Welsh flew as a young pilot.
If money were no object, the A-10 would be a great platform to retain, the general said. But money is tight, he noted, and will be tighter.
The Air Force ultimately will replace the A-10 with the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, Welsh said.
The general said other aircraft—F-16s, B-1s and B-52s—provide roughly 75 percent of the close air support in Afghanistan today.
Saving money also is important, he said. Changing force structure also will change the service, and this is inevitable, Welsh said.
Personnel policies will be used to shape the force, and the service is getting these policies out to airmen now so they can make informed decisions, Welsh said.
“If we ... have to take involuntary measures, I would like everyone to have at least six months of time to talk to their family (and) to think about the impact this could have on them.”