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AUSN Blogs

23
Just as a reminder the office will be closed on Thanksgiving and the Friday following. With Christmas being on a Saturday the office will be closed on the 24th and 31st of December. Of course December is also a time when there is a good bit of vacation being taken so we will be a bit short handed the last half of the month. Linda and her family travel to the Philippines every couple of years and this is one of those. Because of her schedule we are working to get the January magazine out very early in December. If you owe her an article please get it in.

This past week the National Military Veterans Alliance elected CAPT Puzon as Co-Chair beginning next year. The other Co-Chair is Mr. Rick Jones of NAUS. We have been a part of this alliance for some time now but the alliance is maturing and formalizing its structure. As part of this process one of their co-chairs decided to step aside and CAPT Puzon was elected by acclimation. This is good news for AUSN. This alliance may some day rival The Military Coalition in terms of importance on the Hill.

I wanted to get the November issue of Irons to you before the election results were fully known so let me fill you in. You all know that this was an unprecedented swing in House seats. You also probably know that the Freshman T-Party Republicans will be a new factor that no one will understand completely until the 112th Congress is seated and underway. What may be less obvious is that there will be a tremendous shake up in the committees that deal with defense issues. The six senior Democrat members of the House Armed Services Committee are gone, including of course Chairman Ike Skelton. Gene Taylor, the Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, also gone. Many of you have attended or are familiar with the House Guard and Reserve Caucus breakfast that we help sponsor annually. With the Retirement of Republican Chair Steve Buyer and the loss of Co-Chair Gene Taylor, entirely new leadership will have to step up. CAPT Puzon has attended meetings this week with both of these Congressmen and their staffs as we and the other sponsors work to ensure the Caucus continues in the form that we need. (We aren’t forgetting about Reservists!)

As you know the National Defense Authorization Act has not been passed. Authorizations are supposed to be done before the actual Appropriations bills but this just may be the year that we never get an NDAA. If Congress doesn’t do something by 3 December the government is unfunded. The likely fix is an omnibus appropriation that sort of carries forward expenditures that have already been agreed upon. This morning Senator Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader, expressed opposition to an omnibus appropriation as not the kind of government the people demanded on 3 November. What’s next???

I know that a number of you may not find this as interesting as Ike and I do but I’m sure you can understand the implication for challenges to Navy and Veterans’ issues moving forward. Our funding processes are in disarray and that isn’t good for our Country, our Navy and very importantly our members. Our members and indeed the Navy are going to need our help. That is a drumbeat for all of us to repeat.

Speaking of the Navy needing help, I have a hard time understanding this one: We had stated our belief that soon after the elections the Navy would announce its choice in the LCS down-select competition. Instead, on 3 November the Navy announced that it was asking Congress to authorize ten more of each design. On top of that they told Congress that the bids in hand from Lockheed and Austel were only good through 14 December. What the Navy didn’t do was send the key Congressional staff the $ data to support the request including the actual cost of the ships per the bids. As was said in the news this morning many Members are “Outraged” at this ill timed request in the middle of a lame duck session. Admiral Roughead served a tour in the Office of Legislative Affairs so I really don’t understand the Navy thinking here. Regardless of whether the Navy gets what it wants it will be mending fences for some time to come.

Yesterday I spoke to the Midshipmen at Savannah State University in Georgia. I signed up 48 new Affiliate members! We now are just a tad shy of 100 Midshipmen on our roles. Early in December I will be speaking at Jacksonville University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in FL with the same goals in mind. On that trip I will also be meeting with the COs at Florida A&M and the University of Florida to set up similar visits. With much help from CAPT McAtee we are in the process of a visit to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to enroll their midshipmen.

Jean, Bill Overend, and I are working on what I term the “formula” for having an AUSN presence at Pre Deployment Family Readiness Conferences at our NOSCs. We have the schedule for these events next year and AUSN needs to use this as a recruiting opportunity. More to follow soon as we reach out to you to support this effort. Committee meetings are fine but real work must be done.

Again, happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Casey

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