Here are five news stories and events to start your week:
The U.S. Army plans to deploy 200 more soldiers to Iraq to assist in the fight to rid Mosul of militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to multiple news reports Monday morning. If the deployment is approved by Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who heads the joint task force coordinating the war against ISIS, the troops will come from two companies from the service's 82nd Airborne Division, an official told Fox News. Currently, a little more than 5,000 American service members are in Iraq and about 500 mostly Special Forces troops are permitted in Syria under what are called the Force Management Levels.
While pilots of the stealthy fifth-generation jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp. would love for the F-22 Raptor production line to resume, Air Force officials seemed to throw cold water on the idea -- in part because of its estimated $20 billion cost. Even so, with the prospect of the service retiring the venerable F-15 Eagle sometime in the next decade, defense experts question how the service plans to maintain its air superiority. For example, will the F-22 eventually take over the role of the F-15 Eagle? If so, will Raptor pilots be more in demand than ever? Military.com's Oriana Pawlyk spent time with pilots at Tyndall Air Force Base to learn more about the issue. Read more.
Beginning in October 2019, the U.S. Army plans to require soldiers to compete for the Expert Action Badge, an annual physical and skill-based test similar to the prestigious Expert Infantryman Badge and the Expert Field Medical Badge. "Right now, it's a concept that we have developed that is very similar to the EIB program for the infantry and EFMB program for the medics," Army Training and Doctrine Command's Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport told reporters Friday. The EAB will be discussed at an NCO Development Town Hall that Davenport will host 11 a.m. Thursday Eastern Standard Time.
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Commissaries will begin accepting the Military Star credit card in October, said officials with the commissary and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which manages the card program. The Military Star card, operated by AAFES through the Exchange Credit Program, is a popular credit card choice among young service members because approval does not require a long credit history or a good credit score. The card, which historically has been accepted only at exchange facilities across the services, often carries a low credit limit starting at $800 and does not have a yearly fee.
Starbucks plans to open 100 more military family stores over the next five years, company officials announced last week. The Seattle-based company plans to hire 15,000 more veterans and military spouses by 2025, after having already hired 10,000 military-affiliated employees a year early. In a separate but similar announcement on March 22, as part of Starbuck's commitment to bring on 10,000 refugees across the global business by 2022, the company said it's partnering with the veteran-owned nonprofit No One Left Behind, which focuses on the resettlement of Iraqi and Afghan U.S. military interpreters.
-- Richard Sisk, Oriana Pawlyk, Matthew Cox, Hope Hodge Seck and Amy Bushatz contributed to this report.
-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.