April 19, 2015

Public encouraged to give Hero Flight of veterans a good send-off

Korean War MemorialVeterans of the Korean War from five Nebraska counties will be taking a chartered jet to the nation’s capitol next week to see the monument built to honor their service.

Sherry Morrow, coordinator for the Buffalo County Hero Flight, says groups and individuals are raising money to make the trip possible.

“We have done the World War II flights and finished those up several years ago with guys that could go,” Morrow says. “Last year, we started the Korean flights. Of course, since it’s Korean vets, we go to the Korean Memorial and focus on that but then we go ahead and see a lot of the other memorials and things in Washington D.C.”

Morrow encourages everyone to don red, white and blue and wave an American flag on the day of the trip.

“The sendoff on the 22nd is open to the public,” Morrow says. “We’d love to have people come down and send these veterans off on their way with a big celebration at the American Legion Club here in Kearney. It’s at noon.”

The veterans on this flight will be from Adams, Custer, Furnas, Phelps and Sarpy counties.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Sen. Sasse sees some positive signs in the Middle East (AUDIO)

Sen. Ben Sasse with the troops during this visit to the Middle East/Photo courtesy of Sen. Sasse's office

Sen. Ben Sasse with the troops during this visit to the Middle East/Photo courtesy of Sen. Sasse’s office

United States Senator Ben Sasse says he observed some positive signs during his eight-day trip to the Middle East with a Senate delegation.

Sasse made an official visit (CODEL) to Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

During the CODEL, Sasse met with U.S. troops, military officials and political leaders to discuss political, economic and security issues-including threats from both the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and Iranian influence in the region.

Sasse says he had a chance to speak frankly with military personnel, some of whom were from Nebraska.

“There’s cautious optimism from the U.S. troops,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview. “They think real progress has been made over the last six months or so in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Only approximately 9,800 American troops remain in Afghanistan in a role to train, advise, and assist Afghan troops.

Sasse credits President Barack Obama for backing off of his time table to bring home the troops.

“The Afghan military is doing a better job, but they need the advice and counsel of the American war fighters,” according to Sasse. “So, there’s optimism in Afghanistan right now, because the president has pulled back a little bit on his draw-down plans.”

Sasse says the American military faces two terrorist factions in the Middle East. Sunni jihadists, according to Sasse, seek launching sites for terrorist activities around the globe. Iraqi Shia militia, funded by Iran, also pose a threat to stability in the Middle East.

In addition to visiting with troops, the group met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli President Rivlin, Jordanian King Abdullah, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi President Masum, Afghan President Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, and Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]

Nebraska Congressmen cautious about presidential war request (AUDIO)

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Nebraska Congressmen are cautious when commenting on President Obama’s request to use military force against the Islamic State.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says Congress shouldn’t authorize force until other countries in the region agree to join the fight against the Islamic State.

“The position the United States should be in is, of course, one of leadership, compelling the countries, particularly in the region, to fight using their own resources and we’ll help them do that,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Fortenberry says the Sunni Arab countries must play an active role in any coalition used to fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Congressman Adrian Smith says the president’s proposal has come with a lot of background information that he wants to study before deciding.

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith

“We’ll look at all that information. I will sift through all that and have as many discussions as I can, because it is a very serious topic,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.

The proposal requests military authorization to go after, degrade, and destroy the Islamic State. It contains a three-year sunset provision and makes revisions to the post-9/11 authorization of military action against terrorists and countries that aid or harbor them.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Sens. Fischer and Sasse have questions about request for military force (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer/Photo courtesy of Fischer's office

Sen. Deb Fischer/Photo courtesy of Fischer’s office

Both of Nebraska’s United States Senators say Congress needs to thoroughly consider a request by President Obama to use military force against the Islamic State.

Sen. Deb Fisher will sit in on the hearings over the president’s request as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Fischer says three areas need to be clarified before Congress grants the president his request.

“This is serious,” Fischer tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call. “This is multi-layered and it needs to be addressed in a way that not just Congress, but the American people understand what’s involved.”

Fischer says the Obama Administration must disclose what it plans to do about Syria once the conflict with the Islamic State ends, specifically what will become of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Second, she wants the administration to outline what it considers to be Iraq’s future; does it remain a united country or break up into three separate states? Finally, Fischer says the administration needs to provide a strategy for dealing with the growing belligerence of Iran.

The president has issued a formal request that would permit ongoing airstrikes against the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL. It would authorize American military training for local ground forces in both Iraq and Syria. U.S. Special Operations personnel could be used for rescue missions as well as unspecified assistance for local forces.

The request rules out United States ground forces. It would expire after three years.

Sen. Ben Sasse says the request seems to contain more restrictions than strategy.

“The problem I have is that this request starts by saying all the things we won’t do and it doesn’t outline a coherent strategy to actually win,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network.

The president’s request would also repeal the 2002 authorization President George W. Bush received to begin the war with Iraq. It would leave in place the 2001 authorization given to fight al-Qaea in wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Sen. Fischer will vote for Ash Carter as Defense Secretary (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer questions Sec. of Defense-designate Ash Carter/Photo courtesy Sen. Fischer's office

Sen. Deb Fischer questions Sec. of Defense-designate Ash Carter/Photo courtesy Sen. Fischer’s office

Sen. Deb Fischer plans to vote for Defense Secretary-designate Ash Carter and expects him to have more success than outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Carter has been chosen by President Barak Obama as the person to succeed Hagel, who reportedly had clashes with the president’s inner circle in the White House.

Carter, who is 60, is a veteran of both Washington and the Pentagon. He is a physicist who has held a number of posts in the Pentagon, dating as far back as the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Carter made a number of statements during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee which could put him at odds with the president, including being open to review troop levels in Afghanistan and cautious about releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Fischer, a member of the Armed Services Committee, says Carter has more experience at the Pentagon than Hagel, a former United States Senator from Nebraska.

“Secretary Hagel probably didn’t have as solid a base on those issues and had some problems then as Secretary of Defense,” Fischer tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call, a reference to reports Hagel had frequent run-ins with the White House.

Fischer adds reports surfaced in Washington that Hagel didn’t speak up during meetings of the president’s cabinet.

Fischer says Carter gave the committee assurances that he would have no qualms with being straight-forward with the president. Fischer believes Carter will be able to penetrate President Obama’s tight inner circle.

“He won’t be shy about giving his advice on what he believes are the best policies for our military and for the defense of this country,” according to Fischer.

Fischer says Carter is seen in Washington as a professional with wide experience who has a deep understanding of the Pentagon that would serve him well as Secretary of Defense.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]