John Vandiver

Capping troop pay, higher Tricare fees among theoretical options for reducing deficit in report

Congressional budget analysts have 121 ideas for reducing the ballooning U.S. deficit, and 16 of them target Pentagon programs, ranging from long-term pay caps for servicemembers and higher Tricare premiums to spending less on weapons systems.

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Army looks to give its old combat boot the boot

The Army is testing new combat boots that are lighter and have more flexible leather. If any of the prototypes are chosen, it would be the first significant change to the service's basic boots in years.

Russian base in central Africa on the table while US refocuses its strategy

Russian troops are already active in the Central African Republic, where they train local forces in combat techniques as part of an agreement reached in 2018. The next step could be a military base, Russian state media reported.

Troops driving older diesel cars may want to sell as Stuttgart ban takes effect

Drivers of diesel vehicles in the Stuttgart military community may want to consider selling their cars to troops in other parts of Germany as a new environmental law barring many of them takes effect in the city.

US troops in Gabon remain focused on Congo despite local coup attempt

A coup attempt in the central African nation hasn’t yet changed the mission of U.S. troops deployed there last week in response to potential violence in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, U.S. Africa Command said Monday.

Somalia combat operations to continue despite reports, Pentagon says

The Pentagon denied reports of a looming drawdown in Somalia, saying there is no plan to cut back the mission in a country where U.S. Africa Command continues to carry out airstrikes.

Marine deemed falsely accused of war crimes is recommended for higher retired rank

A retired Marine Corps officer whose career was damaged after his unit was falsely accused in 2007 of war crimes in Afghanistan should have his rank elevated and be awarded back pay for damages, a Navy board has determined.

Servicemember advisory to avoid Russia travel remains in effect following Marine veteran’s arrest

U.S. troops are advised not to travel to Russia, where a Marine Corps veteran accused of spying has been detained by authorities and where security services have a history of harassing American military personnel visiting on vacation.

Air Force ‘base in a box’ plan delayed because of poor management, IG says

A plan to stand up 24 mobile air base kits — part of a $797 million program to bolster American air power in Europe — has been hampered by vague deadlines and insufficient oversight, according to an IG report.

Germany wants Poles, Italians and Romanians to beef up its military

The German military, plagued by a shortage of recruits, is considering accepting foreign citizens to help fill out the ranks, the country’s top soldier said Thursday.

Nothing improper about airmen displaying pro-Trump merchandise at Ramstein, Air Force says

U.S. Air Forces Europe said troops holding “Make America Great Again” hats during President Donald Trump’s visit Thursday to Ramstein Air Base were not in violation of military rules that prohibit taking part in partisan activities while in uniform.

Stuttgart student marks rare achievement after earning every merit badge the Scouts offer

Stuttgart High School student Gavin Kisby recently received his last merit badge after successfully water skiing around St. Leoner Lake near Heidelberg.

Former Europe commander calls for larger Poland presence to blunt Russian ambitions

Gen. Philip Breedlove, who led U.S. European Command and served as NATO supreme allied commander until retiring in 2016, warned in a new report that alliance “trip-wire” forces in the Baltics and Poland could be overrun if attacked.


NATO watchers ask what’s next following planned Afghanistan cuts, Syria pullout

Following President Donald Trump’s unexpected decision to pull troops from Syria and reports of a plan to cut half the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the question now swirling in security circles is what mission could be next.

europe quick trips

Christmas Garden Stuttgart brightens up popular zoo with holiday-themed displays

The picturesque Wilhelma zoo is one of the most popular destinations in Stuttgart, and this holiday season it got an added jolt of loveliness.

US soldier detained by Turkish officials at Istanbul airport has been released

A U.S. servicemember, detained this week by Turkish officials over accusations he has links to a U.S.-based Turkish cleric considered an enemy by Ankara, has been released.

Larger Europe mission for Navy is possible to counter Russian activity, Navy undersecretary says

The U.S. Navy will need to do more to counter Russia’s increasing military activity, the service’s number two civilian said Tuesday, a move that could increase the service’s profile in a region where the Army and Air Force have stationed large forces for decades.

White House says troops are leaving Syria, claims victory over ISIS

President Donald Trump has begun withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, the White House announced Wednesday, declaring victory over Islamic State fighters in the country despite ongoing skirmishes and concerns from others in Washington that the terrorist group might mount a comeback.

Hundreds of soldiers in Europe to get ticket refunds after holiday leave snafu

The Army has negotiated refunds for the majority of the 250 soldiers on rotation in Europe who had bought airline tickets home for the holidays before learning the leave granted by their unit hadn’t been approved at higher levels.

US airstrikes kill 62 militants in Somalia

The attacks bring 2018’s strike total in Somalia to 45 — eclipsing last year’s tally of 35, AFRICOM said.

Landstuhl hospital employee investigated over suspected threat to blood supply

The medical center is the European home to the Armed Services Blood Program, which collects blood and other blood products at donation centers at up to three mobile drives throughout Europe each week.

NATO troubled by plan for Kosovo army, which US backs

NATO will reconsider the support it gives Kosovo’s security forces after the country’s decision Friday to take a step toward forming an army, laying bare a disagreement between the military alliance and the United States.

Hundreds of soldiers thought they had holiday leave. Now the Army’s trying to help them cancel their tickets.

Scores of soldiers deployed to Europe could be on the hook after purchasing airline tickets home for the holidays, only to learn that their leave was never fully approved.

Very good, but not great, food at Stuttgart’s swanky Zeppelino’s

After a quick glance at the menu, I knew just what I wanted — the roasted venison served in a lingonberry sauce, with a side of brussels sprouts and hazelnut spaetzle.

New White House strategy in Africa focuses on countering Chinese, Russian influences

Africa is a strategic battleground where countering China and Russia’s growing influence will be the top U.S. priority, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Thursday as he unveiled the Trump administration’s new approach on the continent.

Special operations boss calls for change amid troop misconduct allegations

The head of U.S. special operations forces has issued a call to action after a series of high-profile instances of misconduct revealed a damaged culture of discipline in the ranks.

US troops in Europe told to check in after deadly Christmas market attack

So far there is no sign that any members of the American military community were among those killed or injured in the attack that killed three and injured at least 12 in Strasbourg, France.

EUCOM commander holds talks with Russian defense chief

Uncertainty about Russia’s next moves in Ukraine are likely to loom over the talks, which come after Russia’s recent attack on Ukrainian ships and a threat from the U.S. to quit a key nuclear treaty with Moscow.

One French servicemember dead, one American injured in Niger accident

The U.S. military is investigating a deadly accident involving U.S. and French troops in Niger that left one French servicemember dead and an American injured, U.S. Africa Command said Tuesday.

Army rescinds reprimand for Niger ambush that left four dead, report says

The Army has rescinded the reprimand of Capt. Michael Perozeni, a Green Beret who led troops during the deadly October 2017 ambush in Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead, the New York Times reported.

US military conducts Open Skies observation flight over Ukraine

The U.S. military conducted an “extraordinary” surveillance flight over Ukraine on Thursday in response to Russia’s recent attack on Ukrainian ships, the Pentagon said.

Brace for more Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, NATO chief says

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that security conditions could worsen in Afghanistan, where casualty rates have increased in a war that is now in its 18th year.

US threatens to quit nuclear accord if Russia doesn't comply with terms within 60 days

Russia has 60 days to come into compliance with a key nuclear treaty or else Washington will begin the process of quitting the landmark accord, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

US asks Europe to ‘show leadership’ following Russian sea attack

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will urge NATO allies during talks in Brussels on Tuesday to take a tougher stance against Russia after last week’s attack on Ukrainian vessels and Moscow’s alleged violation of a key nuclear weapons treaty.

Despite calls from Ukraine no signs of US, allied ships heading to Sea of Azov

Ukraine’s president urged NATO on Thursday to send warships into the Sea of Azov, as President Donald Trump announced he was canceling a planned meeting with Russia's president over the seizure of Ukrainian ships and crews this week.

AFRICOM boss travels to Somalia for high-level talks

America’s top commander for Africa made a rare visit to war-torn Somalia, meeting with local leaders to discuss security in a country where U.S. forces quietly serve in a fight against militants.