AFSA HQ Newsletter – January 24th

This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

LEGISLATIVE & OTHER NEWS

113th Congress; 1st Session

  • Senate: In Session – contact lawmakers via DC offices
  • House: In Session – contact legislators via DC offices
  • Capwiz: open 24/7/365 – communicate with Congress any time on any subject

Congratulations Chief!

AFSA would like to thank CMSAF #16 James A. Roy and his wife Ms. Paula for all their hard work and dedication to the enlisted force over the last three years. Good luck and safe travels.

AFSA would also like to welcome CMSAF #17 James A. Cody and his wife Athena to the USAF leadership team. AFSA wishes you great success as you lead the enlisted forward through today’s challenges!

“Kicking the Can” Further…Again

Washington faces three major fiscal concerns impacting the Nation’s economy. Each of these is relevant to our membership by way of military pay, retired pay, veteran’s benefits, healthcare benefits, etc. Here is a snapshot in chronological order of effective dates:

Sequestration – actually started with the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, set to take effect until January 2, 2013. These automatic cuts were focused primarily on the DoD and were on top of the already planned reductions in defense spending. Combined, the two would total near $1 billion in cuts. The original intent of the BCA was to make the “thought of sequestration so repulsive” it would never be enacted. The Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed in their letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee sequestration would hollow out the force. Congress realizes the issue would truly be a severe blow to national security and has delayed sequestration 60 days. Now they have until March 2, 2013.

Continuing Resolution (CR) – started September 27, 2012 as a result of federal budgets not being finalized. Fiscal Year 2013 was set to begin October 1, 2012, but the Senate and House found very little ground to agree upon. The CR is basically a 6 month stall tactic that expires March 27, 2013. The short term impact is that we’re 25% into FY13 (quickly approaching 50%) and we have no official budget to use…everything is now based on FY12’s programming, which is similar to working on a guess. The long term impact is next year’s budget from the president is due by February 1st to start the FY14 process. FY14 projections are based off of FY13 actuals which are guesses right now. FY14 will be late to start for sure, and it would be nothing short of miraculous if Congress was able to get it to the president for signature before October 1, 2013. Since the current CR expires midway through FY13, there’s really no option but to resolve it before March 27th.

Debt Ceiling – The US has a limited amount of money or credit and we’ve reached the limit!  We know there will be more expenses coming in just like there will be more income. However; as of right now we know these debts will be more than the income…our debt will increase. Imagine if your credit card was almost maxed out and you only had enough to choose between milk, medicine, or car payment? The US is quickly approaching a similar set of choices…pay for Medicare or pay for defense. Traditionally (not everyone mind you), some politicians like to address this by focusing on revenue, meaning raising taxes to raise income. Likewise, others traditionally like to address this by focusing on reductions, meaning cut the spending to decrease the debt. Therein lays the political logjam with how to address the debt to income ratio, or debt ceiling. January 23rd the House voted 285-144 in favor of a 3 month extension, pushing the deadline to resolve the debt ceiling back to May 18th.

Sequestration, the Continuing Resolution and the Debt Ceiling…all are critical components of the Nation’s fiscal concerns and all could have impacts on budgets for the DoD as well as for the VA. These issues may seem beyond AFSA’s scope, but as previously, mentioned we need to pay attention to them as 100% of our membership could feel those impacts in some way. How these play out will also dictate to a degree, our ability to approach our legislative platform. AFSA hopes Congress can get these issues resolved so the country can get back on schedule…fiscally and legislatively.

Women Cleared for Combat

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has lifted the ban preventing females in the military from active participation in combat billets. While women in uniform have long served equally with their male counterparts in most capacities, there are still a number of jobs that restrict based on sex…primarily in Special Forces like the Navy SEALs. Allowing time to train and assess, all branches have until January of 2016 to implement and submit possible exceptions.

Hearings on the Hill

In their first week back to work for both chambers since the mini-recess, Congress conducted hearings on some recent headline grabbers:

Lackland AFB Sex Scandal – (Jan 23) Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee were USAF Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III and AETC Commander General Edward A. Rice Jr.. Aside from Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA) who both found the events “disturbing,” there were a number of members from the 62 person committee present for the questioning on sexual assaults at the home of Basic Training. A variety of topics were covered but the overall theme centered on accountability and prevention. Gen Welsh had commented that “there’s simply no excuse, no justifiable explanation and there’s no way we can allow this to happen again.” Gen Rice echoed concerns, saying “it is completely unacceptable to us that so many of our instructors have committed crimes or violated our policies, and we clearly failed in our responsibility to maintain good order and discipline among too many of our instructors.” AFSA is confident that the unfortunate transgressions of trust and abuse of positional power were anomalies and not indicative of a Force-wide, or career field trend. AFSA has faith in our USAF’s current leadership as well as in the multitudes of professional men and women of the Enlisted Corps.

Benghazi Terrorist Attack – (Jan 23) Appearing before the Senate in the morning and the House in the afternoon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided testimony and answered questions on the attack in Libya that left four Americans, including a US Ambassador, dead. Emotions ran high more than once in both hearings as the blame game was played. Regardless of what went wrong or who is accountable, AFSA hopes that procedures and funding are corrected for the future safety and security of Airmen assigned to DAO as well as all US personnel on embassy duty.

Confirmation of Kerry – (Jan 24) Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he has served as Chairman, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) now sits across from his former colleagues as part of the confirmation process on his nomination to succeed current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Unlike Clinton who endured congressional grilling the day before, and fellow cabinet nominee Chuck Hagel who has some controversy along with him, Kerry is expected to have a relatively smooth path into President Obama’s cabinet.

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS

AFSA Insurance – Life & Health

For information and applications on any of these insurance plans please contact Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541,or online here. Please note; coverage may vary or not be issued in all States.

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Plan
  • Cancer Expense Insurance
  • Group Dental Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Short-Term Recovery Insurance Plan
  • TRICARE Supplement Insurance
  • Life Line Health Screenings

Columbia Southern University (CSU) Learning Partnership

The AFSA/CSU partnership provides AFSA members a 10 percent discount on all of CSU’s tuition rates, along with the waived $25 application fee. This discount is available for all AFSA members, employees, and their immediate family members (spouse and children). Go to CSU’s website here and select “Air Force Sergeants Association” as the Partner Benefit provider.

Free SAT & ACT Test Prep Software

In alliance with the DoD and supported by patriotic NFL and MLB players, eKnowledge is donating $200 SAT and ACT PowerPrep™ Programs to military service members and their extended families. To order the free software, click here there is a nominal charge of $13.94 for the cost of materials, processing, distribution and customer service.

Over 20 Other Items of Interest

For a complete and detailed listing of the many benefits to AFSA membership, go to the AFSA webpage and click on the left menu listing “Member Benefits” or just click here.

FROM THE FIELD

What’s On Your Mind?

Is there a particular area of interest you think we should be covering in more detail? Is there a political situation or definition that we could explain, educate or expound upon that would be beneficial to our membership? Fill in the blanks…

“I THINK AFSA SHOULD __________.”  Send inputs to: afsaoc@hqafsa.org.


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This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

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