Overnight Defense: Bill would require women to register for draft

THE TOPLINE: Women would be required to register for the draft under a bill introduced Thursday by Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), two veterans.

Hunter said he introduced the bill to force Congress to consider the ramifications of the Pentagon's recent decision to open all combat jobs to women. The Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and member of the House Armed Service Committee has been a vocal opponent of that move.

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The bill comes two days after the top generals in the Army and Marines said women should be required to register for the draft now that they can serve in all combat jobs.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter also weighed in, saying he believes Congress should decide whether women should be forced to register.

Under Hunter and Zinke's bill, women between the ages of 18 and 26 would be required to register either 90 days after the enactment of the legislation or 90 days after the Defense secretary certifies to Congress that all combat specialties are open to women.

 

NAVY INVESTIGATING PILOTS' HEALTH ISSUES: The Navy is investigating a rise in health issues among pilots of its fleet of F/A-18 and EA-18G fighter jets, the chairman of a House Armed Services Committee subpanel said Thursday.

"We've been informed that the Navy has organized a Physiological Episode Team, to investigate and determine the causes of these physiological episodes in aviators," Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, said at a hearing Thursday. "As symptoms related to depressurization, tissue hypoxia and contaminant intoxication overlap, discerning a root cause is a complex process."

The Navy started noticing a rise in physiological episodes among pilots in 2009, Turner said.

In 2006, the rate of episodes per 100,000 flight hours on the F/A-18 was 3.66, according to written testimony from Navy and Marines leaders.

By the period from Nov. 1, 2014, to Oct. 31, 2015, the rate was 28.23, according to the testimony.

For the EA-18G, the rate was 5.52 from Nov. 1, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2011. From Nov. 1, 2014, to Oct. 31, 2015, it was 43.57.

 

CARTER PROMISES MORE MONEY FOR MARINE READINESS: The administration's 2017 Pentagon budget request will include more money for Marine Corps readiness, particularly in aviation, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday.

The budget request, which will be formally unveiled next Tuesday, will include money for maintenance of the F/A-18 Hornet in depots and spare parts, he said. His comments came as he continued a tour of California, where he's been previewing the budget.

"We're adding funding in the FY17 budget, specifically to make up some maintenance shortfalls and delays in the past. That'll be important to folks here," he said.

He also announced earlier in the day that the Pentagon would increase purchases of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters by 13, including 10 for the Navy and three for the Marine Corps, as well as 16 more F/A-18s.

 

GOP CHAIRMAN PUSHES OBAMA ON GITMO PLAN: The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is pressing President Obama to share his plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility ahead of a February deadline.

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the administration to send Congress a "comprehensive strategy" by Feb. 23 on how to detain current and future prisoners.

"So far, the only communication Congress has received regarding the administration's intention to comply with its legal obligations is [Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter's recent public statements," Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Obama released publically Thursday.

Last month, Carter said he delivered the president a plan that would close the facility and move the remaining detainees to a facility in the United States.

In his letter, Thornberry expressed concern that plan does not include elements required by the NDAA.

"Press reports suggest the plan will not include many of the details required by law to be submitted to Congress, such as listing the specific U.S. facilities where detainees would be held and a full cost estimate," he wrote.

 

DEFENSE CONTRACTORS READYING FOR GROWTH: Defense contractors are preparing for what they expect to be growth in the defense budget after years of downturn, Inside Defense reported.

As they do, the companies are taking varied paths forward. For example, Lockheed Martin is focusing on vehicles, Raytheon on cybersecurity and Northrop Grumman on the Long Range Strike Bomber.

Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant, told Inside Defense the varied approaches are evidence the contractors are 'trying to put their particular imprint on the enterprise.'

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-- Ernst: Obama administration should decide whether to register women for draft

-- GOP lawmakers ask to travel to Iran

-- Russia accuses Turkey of preparing to invade Syria

-- Senate locks down North Korea sanctions vote

-- Senate GOP: Stop Syrian refugee acceptance over fake passports

 

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