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Military News Briefs for the Week of June 16, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2000 –

(This is the a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending June 16, 2000.)

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DoD FORUM TO SPOTLIGHT SENIOR ENLISTED

A first-of-its-kind Senior Enlisted Forum is slated June 22 at the Pentagon.

About 80 active duty, reserve component and Coast Guard senior enlisted members, E-9s, and spouses, from bases around the world have been invited to attend by hosts Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen.

The one-day conference will focus on personnel and readiness issues facing the total force as well as quality of life. DoD officials will brief attendees on ongoing and proposed personnel initiatives, while attendees share their opinions and concerns with the Cohens and DoD experts.

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ENGAGING RUSSIA AT CENTER OF RECENT COHEN TRIP

Keeping the Russians engaged in Europe and with America emerged as the theme of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's trip to Europe June 7-13.

The secretary traveled to Belgium, Lithuania, Sweden and Russia during his trip. At every stop, he hammered home the point that the United States and its European allies must look for ways to engage with Russia.

Cohen said he was encouraged by the presence of Russian Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev at the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council June 9. Russia had boycotted the meetings since NATO launched its 1999 air war against Yugoslavia.

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RUSSIA, U.S. AGREE TO EXPAND COOPERATION, DISAGREE ON NMD

Russia and the United States will expand cooperation in a number of areas, but they disagree on missile defense issues, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said June 13.

"We talked about ways our troops could cooperate even further, not only in Kosovo and Bosnia on the ground, but with our sea forces, air forces and strategic forces," Cohen said following meetings in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev.

He said the United States is "certainly willing to cooperate" with the Russians on theater missile defense research. The Russians have floated a missile defense system alternative that Cohen said presents many technical and political challenges that must be worked out. He said the Russian proposal could not replace the proposed U.S. National Missile Defense system.

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NEW DENTAL PLAN EXPANDS SERVICES, INCLUDES RESERVISTS

DoD's new TRICARE Dental Program will feature lower premiums, expanded services and cost ceilings, and will allow reservists and their families to enroll.

DoD awarded a $1.8 billion, five-year contract to United Concordia Companies Inc. of Camp Hill, Pa., that takes effect Feb. 1, 2001. During the first two years of the contract, premiums for active duty family members will drop slightly from the current levels of $8.53 single and $21.33 family. Premiums for reservists on extended active duty and their families will mirror those of active duty members, however premiums for families of reservists not on active duty will be somewhat higher.

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