As states like Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama pass legislation that prohibits transgender children from seeking gender-affirming care, and women from terminating their pregnancies, service members have been looking to their chains of command for solutions.While none of the services have explicitly created policies that would address these concerns, the Army made headlines recently when its top enlisted soldier told lawmakers that the service was exploring ways to ensure female soldiers would have access to safe, legal abortions despite being stationed in states where they are being banned.While nothing has made it out of the idea phase, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston told Army Times that existing Army policies can apply to these situations, as something of a stop-gap while the service figures out what can be done in the long term.“If you have a soldier that’s struggling with an issue, and there’s no guidelines on it, don’t ignore it,” he said during a May 30 interview. “That’s what it means to be ‘in my squad.’ “For example, soldiers are already able to take leave to get medical care when an on-post facility doesn’t offer it. Commanders, theoretically, already have the authority to grant non-chargeable leave ― meaning it wouldn’t come out of vacation time ― so their troops can leave the state to secure a legal abortion.While military treatment centers aren’t subject to state laws, military doctors aren’t able to perform abortions because of a 1976 law that prohibits using federal funding to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother.And unlike organizations like Planned Parenthood, which also can’t use its federal funding on abortions, troops couldn’t just pay out of pocket for an abortion from a military care provider, as those doctors could face licensing repercussions in states where private doctors are subject to criminal prosecution.So assuming female soldiers are able to find an abortion provider out of state and secure non-chargeable leave from their chains of command, there is still the issue of travel expenses.That’s something the Army may be able to get covered through legislation, though nothing specifically has been proposed.“It’s never always going to fit into that mold. It may not say that word. It may not say this word,” Grinston said of current medical travel policies, which do cover expenses. “But you apply a little bit of leadership and think is that’s what’s right for our families. And then get that to somebody that can help.”And while military health providers are able to prescribe gender-affirming medications and procedures, access could be in jeopardy in states where that care is banned for anyone under 18.In that case, soldiers can enroll their dependents in the Exceptional Family Member Program, which is designed to ensure soldiers whose families have particular medical needs get stationed in locations where they can be met.Unfortunately, it’s still not a guaranteed fix. EFMP is notoriously difficult to navigate, with its resources and guidelines inconsistent from installation to installation.RELATEDLast year, a group of lawmakers introduced a bill that would prevent troops with transgender dependents from being stationed in states where their care is outlawed, but the House Armed Services Committee hasn’t moved on it.Grinston said he’s not personally received a lot of questions from soldiers about abortion or transgender policies, but in May, he got a handful of them from a House Appropriations Committee panel.“We are drafting policies to ensure we take care of our soldiers in an appropriate way,” he told lawmakers, in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. “There are drafts if it were to be overturned, but that would be a decision for the secretary of the Army.”Grinston has since revised that statement, going back to Capitol Hill in late May to clarify what he meant.“We’re constantly trying to do what’s right for our service, no matter what’s going on the nation, ” he told Army Times, though there isn’t actually draft policy that is working its way through approval channels. “But this is just the Army. We’ve done this. And then any decisions will be made by the secretary.”Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT
Son of former LA Dodger Steve Sax killed in California Osprey crash
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement saying that his 33-year-old son who had always dreamed of being a pilot was among five U.S. Marines killed during a training flight crash earlier this week in the California desert.Capt. John J. Sax was among the aircrew of an Osprey…
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement saying that his 33-year-old son who had always dreamed of being a pilot was among five U.S. Marines killed during a training flight crash earlier this week in the California desert.Capt. John J. Sax was among the aircrew of an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that went down during training in a remote area in Imperial County, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of San Diego and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Yuma, Arizona.Capt. John J. Sax (Marine Corps) “It is with complete devastation that I announce that my precious son, Johnny was one of the five US Marines that perished on Wednesday, June 8, in the Osprey Military crash near San Diego,” Steve Sax said in a statement published Saturday by CBSLA-TV.“For those of you that knew Johnny, you saw his huge smile, bright light, his love for his family, the Marines, the joy of flying airplanes and defending our country! He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country.”The former Dodger said his son had wanted to be a pilot since he was young and would talk about the types of planes that were flying overhead while playing in the outfield in Little League baseball.“There was never any doubt from a young age that Johnny would be a pilot and his passion was to fly!” the statement said. “This loss will change my life forever and is a loss to not only the Marines but this world!”Steve Sax played in the Major Leagues from 1981 to 1994, winning two world championships during his seven years as a second-baseman with the Dodgers. Fans, Major League Baseball and the team offered condolences on social media.“The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened to hear about the passing of Steve Sax’s son, John, and the five Marines who lost their lives in this week’s tragic helicopter accident. Our thoughts and condolences go out to their families and friends,” the Dodgers said in a tweet Saturday.John J. Sax is survived by his wife, Amber, who is pregnant with their second child, and their 20-month-old daughter, said Dodgers spokesperson Steve Brener.Sax, of Placer, California, was one of two pilots killed in the crash, along with Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire.Also killed were three tiltrotor crew chiefs: Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.The Marines were based at Camp Pendleton and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 of Marine Aircraft Group 39, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has been criticized by some as unsafe. It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like an airplane.The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Brookings places retired Marine general on leave amid FBI probe
The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into Allen’s foreign lobbying.Brookings’ announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported on new court filings that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation into his role…
The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into Allen’s foreign lobbying.Brookings’ announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported on new court filings that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation into his role in an illegal foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of the wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar.An FBI agent said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant there was “substantial evidence” that Allen had knowingly broken a foreign lobbying law. Allen had made false statements and withheld “incriminating” documents, the FBI agent’s affidavit said.Allen has not been charged with any crimes and previously denied any wrongdoing.Brookings told staffers Wednesday that the institute itself is not under federal investigation. The think tank’s executive vice president, Ted Gayer, will serve as acting president.“Brookings has strong policies in place to prohibit donors from directing research activities,” the email said. “We have every confidence in the Brookings team’s ability to remain focused on delivering quality, independence, and impact.”The federal investigation involving Allen has already ensnared Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pleaded guilty to federal charges last week, and Imaad Zuberi, a prolific political donor now serving a 12-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Several members of Congress have been interviewed as part of the investigation.The new court filings detail Allen’s behind-the scenes efforts to help Qatar influence U.S. policy in 2017 when a diplomatic crisis erupted between the gas-rich Persian Gulf monarchy and its neighbors.Allen’s alleged work for Qatar involved traveling to Qatar and met with the country’s top officials to offer them advice on how to influence U.S. policy, as well as promoting Qatar’s point of view to top White House officials and members of Congress, the FBI’s affidavit says.Brookings is one of the most prestigious think thanks in the U.S.Allen, who was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution prior to becoming president in late 2017, used his official email account at the think tank for some of his Qatar-related communications, the affidavit says.Qatar has long been one of Brookings’ biggest financial backers, though the institution says it has recently stopped taking Qatari funding.
Lawmakers want Army to set up program to experiment with electrical tactical vehicle operations
Oshkosh Defense debuted a hybrid electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in a virtual event on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Defense)WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in…
Oshkosh Defense debuted a hybrid electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in a virtual event on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Defense)WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in the field.In the Army’s climate strategy released earlier this year, the service laid out a goal to field hybrid electric tactical vehicles by 2035 and all-electric vehicles by 2050. But with that pledge comes a complicated logistics tail for maintaining and recharging them on the battlefield.The Army also approved a tactical and combat vehicle electrification, or TaCV-E, initial capabilities document in December 2021 that “informs the transition to advancing electrification capabilities and operational requirements generation for the ground vehicles fleet,” according to the subcommittee’s fiscal 2023 authorization mark.The subcommittee members are “interested if electrification in the near term is achievable for tactical ground vehicles given the evident operational benefits associated with reduced vehicle thermal and noise signature, increased dash speed and reduction in liquid fuel requirements.”RELATEDBy prototyping and experimenting with TaCV-E, the military could gain a better understanding of what is needed to operate and to inform planning and potential issues, the mark states.The subcommittee said there is “considerable and apparent” value for the service to enter into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, also known as CRADAs, with industry partners.And the Army should establish a pilot program at one of the combat training centers, like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, to experiment and demonstrate “integrated electrification capabilities” to include electric vehicles, mobile fleet charging systems and exportable power generation during operational training exercises, the subcommittee suggests.Should the language make it into the final FY23 authorization bill, the Army secretary would be required to provide by Jan. 15 a report to the HASC on whether a pilot program would be feasible and what the effort would cost.As Defense News first reported, the Army is preparing its first-ever operational energy strategy, which is expected by the end of the year. In the strategy, the Army would map out how it manages and distributes power in operations across the battlefield.The Army is already working with industry in a number of ways, including assessing capabilities at exercises stateside such as the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment.The service is assessing the possibility of fielding a hybrid electric version of several of its vehicles, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.Oshkosh, the JLTV’s manufacturer, unveiled earlier this yea, a hybrid version of the vehicle, but the Army does not have a stated requirement for the capability yet. And the service plans in FY23 to decide whether it will pursue a hybrid Bradley.The most likely candidate to become an all-electric tactical vehicle is the Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle. The Army has looked at a variety of options through demonstrations, but has yet to fund the effort.Last year, Army Futures Command’s Applications Laboratory picked companies to participate in a cohort to develop ways to power electric vehicles in austere, remote locations.A separate mark of the FY23 authorization bill would require the Pentagon to set up a pilot program for transitioning entire non-tactical vehicle fleets at certain installations to electric power.The HASC’s readiness subcommittee wants the secretary of each military department to select an installation for the pilot and submit a plan to make all non-tactical vehicles at that location electric-powered by 2025.Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.