Second Airman Killed Within Few Days: The Pentagon on Monday said that A1C Eric M. Barnes, 20, of Lorain, Ohio, had been killed following an improvised explosive device attack on an Air Force convoy on June 10 about 100 miles south of Baghdad. Barnes, who had deployed to Iraq from the 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., was the second airman to be killed in Iraq last week. We reported in yesterday’s column that an IED attack killed SrA. William N. Newman on June 7. New information from Hickam AFB, Hawaii, states that explosive ordnance specialist Newman died while attempting to defuse an IED.
Wasting No Time: Lockheed Martin already has submitted a new protest to the Government Accountability Office over the combat search and rescue helicopter replacement program, declaring Monday that the company believes “the Air Force’s amended CSAR-X RFP does not comply with the corrective action recommended by the GAO earlier this year.” The Air Force released a final amended request for proposals on May 31 and expects the original three offerors—Lockheed, Sikorsky, and the original award winner Boeing—to submit revised proposals by the end of next week. Service officials also issued a 13-page response to offeror questions and complaints, disputing any criticism. Lockheed acknowledged the Air Force’s “urgent need for new CSAR aircraft,” but stated that a “broader re-evaluation of bids, consistent with the GAO’s recommendation, will result in an outcome that would better serve our nation’s warfighters.”
Riding Shotgun Over Albania: More than 800 airmen from bases across Europe worked to protect the skies above Albania on Sunday—the day President Bush visited Tirana, Albania. Scott Schonauer of Stars and Stripes reports that aircraft patrolling the airspace included F-16s from Aviano AB, Italy, F-15Cs from RAF Lakenheath, England, and tankers from neighboring RAF Mildenhall, as well as an E-3 AWACS command and control aircraft from Tinker AFB, Okla. On the ground, the air and space operations center at Ramstein AB, Germany, consolidated information from the AWACS and other ground and airborne assets into a picture for US Air Forces in Europe commander, Gen. Tom Hobbins, and Albanian Brig. Gen. Shpetim Spahia. At a joint press conference, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha noted that it was an “historic visit, the first visit ever by a United States President in Albania.”
Who’s Up, Who’s Down: The just released May recruiting numbers show that the Air National Guard recorded its weakest month so far this fiscal year, making only 77 percent of its goal of 955 accessions. The Air Guard has fallen short of its goals for the last four months. Both the active and reserve numbers are down for the Army. The other services met or exceeded—in the case of the Marine Corps—their goals for the past month. According to the Pentagon, the Air Guard’s strong retention is keeping it at 99 percent of its end strength.
Defending Kunsan, for Combat Practice: American airmen and South Korean airmen teamed up June 8 at Kunsan AB in the Republic of Korea to learn how to defend the base and improve the coalitions’ war fighting capabilities. This was the first time since the South Korean 111th Fighter Squadron moved to Kunsan that they have trained in air combat tactics with F-16 Vipers from Pacific Air Force’s 35th Fighter Squadron. It also marked the first joint training since the South Korea unit had transitioned from the F-5 to the F-16. SSgt. Alice Moore reports that the exercise included US airmen from both Kunsan and Osan Air Base. Kunsan plans another joint training exercise for later this month.
Policy Reorganization Under the Scope: Senate defense authorizers frustrated with a lack of information about the planned reorganization of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy want the Government Accountability Office to conduct an assessment. Roxana Tiron of The Hill reports that their version of the 2008 defense authorization bill includes a directive for the congressional watchdog to “look into the efficacy of a reorganization that has been in the works for more than a year.” The Hill noted early this year that lawmakers had gotten “less comfortable” with Pentagon explanations, especially regarding plans for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.
USAF Heads Environmental Awards: The Defense Department has given four of eight environmental awards for 2006 either to Air Force bases or individuals. The USAF winners are: Arnold AFB, Tenn., for Natural Resources Conservation; Gary O’Donnell of Hickam AFB, Hawaii, for Individual/Team Cultural Resources Management; Tinker AFB, Okla., for Environmental Quality in an Industrial Installation; and Dover AFB, Del., for Installation Environmental Restoration.
Overhaul Rating Schedule?: The Institute of Medicine, by request of the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission, has issued a report recommending improvements for medical evaluations and ratings of veterans for VA benefits. The report “A 21st Century System for Evaluating Veterans for Disability Benefits,” recommends that the VA “comprehensively update the entire rating schedule.” It also recommends that the VA dedicate staff to maintain the rating schedule, and re-establish an external advisory committee of experts to help with the updating process. The institute also believes that VA must expand the current statutory purpose of the program, which is simply to “compensate for average loss of earning capacity.” Instead the report states the VA should also consider “nonwork disability and loss of quality of life” and acknowledges that such action “would be difficult and costly.” (You can read it online free or purchase a copy here.)
Retire after Two Years, Instead of Three: Some of Air Force Reserve Command’s lieutenant colonels and colonels can now retire after spending two years time-in-grade, rather than the customary three years. As part of its force shaping efforts, the Air Force has reduced the time-in-grade requirement from three years to two for no more than two percent of a grade’s authorized end strength each year. That means a maximum of 126 lieutenant colonels and 30 colonels are eligible to retire in 2007.
ULA Launches First Commercial Satellite: The newly formed United Launch Alliance launched a Delta II rocket June 7, boosting the Italian-built COSMO-SkyMed payload into orbit from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The company says that this is the first time a ULA Delta II launch vehicle has been used for a commercial satellite. This Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation, or COSMO-1, is the first of four COSMO-SkyMeds scheduled for launch. COSMO-2 will launch either later this year or early 2008.
Air Sorties in the Global War on Terrorism:June 7-9, 2007
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