In addition to extending maternity and paternity leave for new parents, the Pentagon announced? five more initiatives as part of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s “Force of the Future” initiative, which looks to retain troops looking to start families. The Pentagon will mandate mothers’ rooms for breastfeeding at all facilities with more than 50 women, which results in the improvement or establishment of 3,600 rooms. The Pentagon will extend childcare development center hours to a 14-hour minimum, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., with each child receiving up to 12 hours of subsidized care. The Secretaries of each department will conduct a long-range strategic plan for future childcare options to improve care and reduce waitlists, with a deadline of June 1. The military also will allow service members to remain at a station of choice for family reasons “in certain instances where it is in the best interests of the family,” according to a DOD factsheet. The service member, if their wish to stay is approved by their commander, will need to agree to an additional Active Duty service obligation. Lastly, Tricare will cover the cost of sperm or egg freezing under a pilot program to “provide greater peace of mind” for service members looking to start a family, but their service commitment does not allow for the flexibility at the moment, Carter said on Thursday.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.