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interview a few U.S. service- members on


“ I’d love to


the ground in Afghanistan to determine exactly how clear they are on ‘what needs to be done.’ —Col. Alan C.


Saunders, USA (Ret) ”


Disputing Dunford’s Remarks In the words of Roger Daltrey and The Who, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” [“Readiness Under Pressure,” April 2016]. Exit Gen. Martin Dempsey, USA (Ret). Enter Gen. Joseph Dunford, USMC, with yet another rosy estimate of the situ- ation regarding the ongoing U.S. effort to combat [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)] in Iraq and Syria. General Dunford now claims to have trained “a number of effective forces” in Iraq — without giving specifics. At the same time, he expresses confidence in “large groups of vetted Syrian opposition forces” willing to take the fight to ISIL. Does anyone outside the Pentagon truly


believe these claims any longer, particular- ly given Army Gen. Lloyd Austin’s recent congressional testimony that only “four or five” trained Syrian fighters resulted from a $500 million U.S. investment? Further, General Dunford claims Af-


ghan forces have been “resilient” in fight- ing the Taliban and drops the whopper of the day: “We’re clear what needs to be done.” I’d love to interview a few U.S. ser- vicemembers on the ground in Afghani- stan to determine exactly how clear they are on “what needs to be done.” I suspect their vision might be a tad different from the chairman’s. After all, General Dunford states, “We


have a plan based on assumptions.” I’m no expert, but sound operational planning is rarely — if ever — based on assumptions. It would appear that after giving token


resistance to the administration’s radi- cal social engineering plans for the U.S. armed forces, General Dunford is now marching in lockstep with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the president. The more things change, the more they stay the same. —Col. Alan C. Saunders, USA (Ret) Fredericksburg, Va.


14 MILITARY OFFICER JUNE 2016


Benefits Under Fire “History Repeats” [Washington Scene], in your April 2016 magazine, was very infor- mative. The new retirement system is eerily similar to the old Redux system, which was found to be a disaster. The difference seems to be the “blended” approach combines a reduced pension (Redux-like) and a govern- ment match to the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). I am wary though, as every time DoD changes the military retirement system, it is to benefit DoD, not necessarily servicemembers. And it’s always about how to save DoD money on the backs of retirees. I am perplexed MOAA supports this


new system at all. My concern is the reli- ance on servicemembers to essentially fund a portion of their own retirement through the TSP in exchange for a smaller pension percentage (40 percent vice 50 percent of base pay) at 20 years of service. The problem with this premise is that not many junior servicemembers, especially those with families, can afford to contrib- ute to the TSP in the first place. Therefore, TSP contributions will not happen and thus neither will matching funds — un- doubtedly saving DoD even more money! Solution: Leave well enough alone! —Cmdr. Jim Otto, USN


Life Member, Heartland of America Chapter Bellevue, Neb.


Thank you for providing the detail … in [“TRICARE Reform or Fee Increases?” Washington Scene, April 2016]. My bride of 45 years recently turned 65. Our com- bined income caused us to be in the new means-tested Medicare payer category. To enroll her into TRICARE For Life and renew her military ID, we had to provide proof of her Medicare enrollment. The fact is, after 28-plus years of active duty and constant reminders that my pay included the benefit of “free” health care for life if I served more than 20 years, [it]


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