1. Renovations of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) barracks (Building 247) begin this month with an estimated completion date of Dec. 27, 2016, according to the Department of Defense. Funding comes from a bid won by co-venturing San Diego companies Herman/JCG for a $23,562,676 contract - the largest-ever federal contract awarded with funds set aside specifically for a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, Alabama, is the contracting activity.2. The end of Operation Enduring Freedom Dec. 28, as announced by a ceremony at the International Security and Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, closes a 13-year conflict in the region. In its place, Operation Inherent Resolve remains the DOD's first line of strategy against the ISIL terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq, utilizing a targeted coalition of drone air strikes "to degrade and defeat ISIL terrorists who hold large sections of territory along the countries' shared border," according to a DOD press release. "The United States has begun training Iraqi army recruits, a central part of the strategy by the U.S.-led coalition that is working with the Iraqi government to retake territory and ultimately defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in the country.3. Just two weeks after becoming commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. released selection criteria for nominations of Marines for consideration to become the next sergeant major of the Marine Corps. The criteria, contained in All Marine message 45/14, lists that candidates for the billet must have combat experience, serve in a general officer-slated billet for at least two years, have at least 25 years in service, be willing to occupy the designated quarters for the sergeant major of the Marine Corps and possess "strong communication skills, both written and oral."4. Operation United Assistance remains functional in Monrovia, Liberia, continuing the DOD's effort to disperse up to 4,000 service members to combat the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. The DOD has spent some $257.4 million on the DOD mission in Liberia in support of the U.S. government response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, according to an online DOD report.5. Ashton Carter is expected to make it through Senate confirmation hearings with ease as President Barack Obama's fourth defense secretary in six years. Key players from the GOP's national security offices have praised Carter, notably from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who will preside over confirmation hearings. Carter will replace current Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who announced his retirement late last year.6. U.S. Army base budget requests for FY 2015 continue to drop in what the Army calls an "accelerated drawdown," reducing funds for things like weapons research and instead shifting focus toward "developing adaptable leaders at all levels," according to the Army FY 2015 base budget request. The report shows actual funding requests for FY 13 consisted of $127.3 billion, dropping to $125.1 billion in FY 14 and projected requests for FY 15 are at $120.5 billion.7. Military commission pre-trial proceedings for United States v. Abd al Hadi al Iraqi - a detainee at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2007 - are slated to take place at Guantanamo Jan. 26-30. Charges against Abd al Hadi allege that as a senior member of al-Qaida, he conspired with and led others in a series of perfidious attacks and related offenses in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004, according to the DOD. Following his tenure as commander of al-Qaida's insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the charges allege that Abd al Hadi continued his liaison role with al-Qaida in Iraq and was ultimately assigned by Osama bin Laden to travel to Iraq to assume a position among the leadership of al-Qaida's insurgency there, according to the DOD.8. The Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea, the Ministry of Defense of Japan and the DOD finalized a trilateral information sharing arrangement concerning the nuclear and missile threat posed by North Korea. The arrangement creates a framework for how the three participants may voluntarily share classified information, with the DOD serving as the hub for all communications. No new legal obligations are imposed on the signatories, and the arrangement advances the security of the three joint forces by allowing for a more effective response to future provocations and during contingencies.9. DOD Releases 2015 Military Pay and Compensation Rates, with most service members receiving a one percent increase in basic pay. The new rates for basic pay, basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and the cost of living allowance rates for the contiguous United States took effect Jan. 1, 2015. More details can be found at http://goo.gl/9q8bIE.10. MARADMIN 676/14 announced Dec. 24 opportunities and incentives for reserve Marine officers who are willing to laterally move and assume critical skill billets as forward air controllers and battalion air officers. Officers who assume the billets mentioned are eligible for a $20,000 bonus. In addition, officers who are currently in receipt of a previous fiscal year officer affiliation bonus in the amount of $10,000, may submit for an additional $10,000 bonus if they are assigned to one of the billets previously listed. In order to be eligible for the bonus, officers must serve in their new assigned unit for three years, complete the Air Control Tactical Party Course and complete an evaluation every 18 months. Eligible officers who must travel more than 150 miles from their home of record to a selected Marine Corps Reserve unit may be eligible for travel reimbursement, which can cover up to $300 per month in travel expenses.