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5 Things to Start Your Week

In this Jan. 9, 2017 photo, Veterans Affair secretary nominee David Shulkin leaves a meeting at Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In this Jan. 9, 2017 photo, Veterans Affair secretary nominee David Shulkin leaves a meeting at Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Here are five noteworthy news stories and events to start your week, from the editors at Military.com.

1. Senate Expected to Confirm Shulkin as VA Secretary

The Senate is expected to vote as early as today to confirm Dr. David Shulkin as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. Shulkin, the current under secretary for health at the VA and an internist with more than 30 years of experience in major health care systems, last week was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee by a vote of 14-0, signaling he'll also likely easily receive the support of the full chamber. During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Shulkin vowed to fight full privatization of veterans care while seeking to expand community choice programs.

2. Two US Soldiers Wounded in Fighting in Afghanistan

A couple of American soldiers were wounded last week in Helmand province's contested Sangin district, Stars and Stripes reported. One was shot and flown out of country for treatment; the other was struck by shrapnel and returned to duty, according to the report. The incident came as Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the war has reached a stalemate due in part to growing Russian support for the Taliban. Nicholson commands about 12,500 troops in the country, including 8,400 U.S. service members. He said the plan to send about 300 Marines back into Helmand on a training and advisory mission would help.

3. North Korea Tests Ballistic Missile in Challenge to Trump

North Korea on Saturday tested a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile, The Associated Press reported. At the time, U.S. President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Abe condemned the launch as "absolutely intolerable" and Trump said the U.S. "stands by Japan." U.S. Strategic Command detected and tracked the projectile at 5:55 p.m. Eastern time from its launch near the northwestern city of Kusong to its splashdown into the Sea of Japan about 500 kilometers away, the Pentagon said. The so-called Pukguksong-2 was described by the North as a new type of strategic weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, but it wasn't believed to be an ICBM.

4. National Security Adviser Faces Scrutiny for Russia Talks

Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser and the retired Army lieutenant general who previously directed the Defense Intelligence Agency, faces increased scrutiny after refusing to deny that he spoke about Russian sanctions with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., before Trump took office, according to multiple news organizations. One official told CNN that Flynn has no plans to resign and doesn't expect to be fired, even though he may have misled other administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, who last month told CBS News that Flynn and Kislyak "did not discuss anything" related to sanctions.

5. 'We Were Soldiers' Author and Retired Army General Dies

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Harold G. "Hal" Moore, a hero known for saving most of his men in the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese armies, died Friday at his home in Auburn, Alabama, just two days shy of his 95th birthday, The Associated Press reported. Moore co-authored with journalist Joseph Galloway the 1992 book "We Were Soldiers Once … and Young," a New York Times bestseller about the Nov. 14, 1965, Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. The book inspired a 2002 film, "We Were Soldiers," starring Mel Gibson as Moore. His son, Dave Moore, last year acknowledged to Military.com discrepancies in the service records of a soldier in the book.

-- Richard Sisk contributed to this report.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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