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National Security Weekly Report 


Week of March 13, 2017


  1. The Trump administration sent its fiscal 2018 budget blueprint to Congress on Thursday. The administration proposed a $54 billion increase in defense discretionary spending that is paid for by an equal cut to nondefense discretionary spending.
  2. On Tuesday, the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Acting Secretary of the Navy, General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and Sergeant Major Ronald L. Green, USMC, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, all testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Navy and Marine Corps response to the Marines United photo sharing scandal.
  3. The Department of Defense released an update related to the prevention of and response to sexual assault and harassment in the Armed Forces on Wednesday, with Deputy Director Freddy Gessner participating in the teleconference.
  4. On Wednesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the HillVets 100 2017 Annual Tribute Gala with the Honorable Chuck Hagel, 24th Secretary of Defense. Also in attendance will be the event chair Ken Flake, CEO of Shoulder to Shoulder, Inc., the HillVets Board of Directors, and the Master of Ceremonies Soledad O’Brian, MSNBC and CNN correspondent.
  5. On Thursday, National Security Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended an executive council of military and veteran service organizations hosted by the Defense Health Agency to review changes made to TRICARE.
  6. On Thursday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel met with a representative of the United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) to discuss partnership opportunities with the National Security division.
  7. DPAA Update:
    1. Remains of Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Casto, killed in the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, have now been identified. On Dec. 7, 1941, Casto was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Casto. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Casto. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
    2. Army Pfc. Robert E. Mitchell, missing from the Korean War, has now been identified. On Sept. 6, 1950, Mitchell was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was attacking enemy forces of the Korean People's Army that had penetrated the Naktong Bulg portion of the Pusan Perimeter near Am-sin, South Korea.  Following the series of attacks, Mitchell could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action. In late 2014, Mitchell's family requested the disinterment of Unknown X-5698 Tanggok, based on a tentative name association. Unknown X-5698 was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and accessioned to the DPAA laboratory on May 16, 2016. Laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.