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Military hair policy changes after controversy


Dreadlocks, cornrows, twisted braids and other hairstyles popular among African American women will be more accepted across the military after a forcewide review of hairstyle policies prompted several changes, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

The three-month review came after a spate of complaints that service-level grooming policies were racially biased against black women who choose to wear their hair naturally curly rather than use heat or chemicals to straighten it.

"Each service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting military requirements," Hagel wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill notifying them of the changes Monday. "These reviews were informed by a panel of military personnel of mixed demographics reflective of our diverse force."

Pentagon: Effectiveness of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq remains limited


The Pentagon's top war planner said the military campaign's impact remains limited after four days of airstrikes in northern Iraq, and the Islamic militants continue to be a powerful force capable of terrorizing Iraqi civilians and seizing territory.

"I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained, or that we are somehow breaking the momentum of [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]," said Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of operations, or "J-3" for the Joint Staff, told reporters Monday.

"They are very well organized. They are very well equipped. They coordinate their operations and they have thus far showed the ability to attack on multiple axis. This is not insignificant," Mayville said at a Pentagon briefing.

Robins plans workplace-safety partnership


Robins Air Force Base officials say they're working with a federal agency and two unions to improve workplace safety.

Base officials are scheduled to formally enter into the alliance Friday with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 987 and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local F107.

Base spokesman Roland Leach said the groups' goal is a safer and healthier workplace.

Defense Department sets up Ebola task force


The Defense Department is closely watching the Ebola epidemic, establishing a small internal task force to evaluate ways to support international efforts to stop the outbreak, the Pentagon's top spokesman said Tuesday.

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said DoD already is helping in Liberia, with a small number of military and civilian public health officials from U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, providing support.

"Clearly, we're watching this as closely as everybody else is and it's an interagency effort here in the United States," Kirby said. "It's not just the Pentagon, it's CDC, USAID, it's State Department. We're all talking about this and working on this."

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees

The Air Force is taking aim at obesity among dependents and retirees through two pilot programs that could eventually go servicewide.

Part of the new Healthcare to Health initiative — H2H for short — the programs target parents of Air Force children as well as spouses and retirees through interactive courses on base, said Kelly Williams, a certified health education specialist who has spent two years developing the initiative.

The first, called 5210 Healthy Military Children, teaches moms and dads how to make consistent, healthy meal and exercise choices at home. The second, Group Lifestyle Balance, focuses on weight management, physical activity and healthy eating for spouses and retirees at risk for weight-related health problems like Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, strokes and heart attacks.

DoD quietly tightens tuition assistance rules


Force-wide changes to the military's Tuition Assistance program may require troops to pay back their TA money if they perform poorly in class.

Service members taking undergraduate courses will have to achieve a grade of C or higher, and those taking graduate-level classes must obtain a grade of B or higher, or else they will be subject to "recoupment" and may have to pay out-of-pocket cash retroactively for the class's costs, according to an internal policy change that Defense Department officials approved July 7 but did not publicly announce.

Service members who receive a grade of "I" for incomplete will have to repay their TA money if they fail to complete the class and convert the "I" into a satisfactory grade.

Robins offering buyouts to workers

Robins offering buyouts to workers

Robins Air Force Base is accepting buyout applications from up to 100 civilian employees, part of a new round of Air Force budget-cutting.

In a news release Friday, the base said selected workers will be offered incentives of up to $25,000 for early retirement and separation.

The base recently said it may eliminate up to 258 jobs at its Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, about a quarter of the jobs there.

The reductions are a part of an Air Force program to eliminate 3,459 positions, the news release states. They say the cuts would save $1.6 billion over the next four years.

Robins says it will accept applications from up to 15 specialties, including human resources,budget analysts and material handlers.

The base says they will approve fewer than 100 buyouts, and those workers must leave by Sept. 30.