MCLEAN, Va., Dec. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Military.com today announced its list of top military stories of 2015. From the South China Seas to the ongoing threat of ISIS in the Middle East, as well as debates over women in combat and congressional arguments about downsizing the military, 2015 was another dramatic year for the armed forces. Here are the top ten stories of 2015:
- Women in Combat
History was made in 2015 for women in the military on several fronts. The first three women graduated from Army Ranger School and Defense Secretary Ash Carter subsequently ordered that all military jobs be opened to women. The Marine Corps, which had been overruled on the women in combat issue, acquiesced and prepared to integrate its units.
- Congress Approves Military Retirement Overhaul
Congress approved a historic overhaul of the military retirement system, including 401(k)-like plans for troops who serve less than 20 years. New recruits who enter service beginning in October 2017 will see 3 percent of their basic pay automatically saved into a Thrift Savings Plan.
- US Deploys More Ground Troops to Fight ISIS
In October, a Delta Force member was killed while leading an assault team on an ISIS prison in Iraq, becoming the first American service member to be killed in action in fighting against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Carter said the U.S. will deploy more Special Forces troops to Iraq as part of a special "targeting force."
- Russia Enters the War in Syria
Russia entered the conflict in Syria in late September when Russian military jets carried out airstrikes in the country for the first time. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the operations were designed to attack ISIS.
- U.S.-China Tensions Flare in the South China Sea
Tensions between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea flared this year as China sought to assert its sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. Until this fall, the U.S. Navy hadn't flown or sailed near China's manmade islands since 2012, but that changed in late October when a U.S. destroyer sailed close by the islands.
- Military Pressed to Downsize Despite Budget Deal
The downsizing comes despite a recent two-year budget deal between Congress and the White House. President Obama set basic pay raises for 1.3 percent in 2016, which was slightly higher than pay raises in previous years, but trailed the 2.3 percent estimated increase in private sector-wage growth, which military pay is supposed to track by law.
- Chris Kyle
Famous Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle received a lot of attention this year, from the Clint Eastwood film released in late 2014 about his life to the trial of the man who shot and killed him, Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine who was found guilty.
- Pentagon Leadership Changes
New Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter took office in February. In September, Eric Fanning was tapped for Army secretary, becoming the first openly gay service secretary nominee. Also that month, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey turned over his post to Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.
- Hospital Ship Damages Pearl Harbor Memorial
History and current events collided in an unfortunate way in May this year when the naval hospital ship USNS Mercy struck the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, leading to a temporary shutdown of the memorial site and an investigation of the collision.
- Amid Scandals, VA Seeks New Prosthetics and More Coverage
The VA faced improper and bizarre behavior by top officials, but sought to highlight prosthetics research and expanded medical coverage. Meanwhile, lawmakers came close to approving but ultimately scrapped a plan to let VA doctors talk to veterans about using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
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