Digital AIR FORCE
Gen. William M. Fraser III
House Armed Services
Lt. Gen. Douglas J. Robb
Dir., Defense Health Agency
House Armed Services, Personnel
Donald L. Fuell
Tech. Dir., Force Modern., NASIC
US-China Economic & Security Review
Defense Writers Group
From the AIR FORCE Archive
10 Years Ago
25 Years Ago
The Myth of Overkill
An examination of the theories and proposals of Prof. Seymour Melman of Columbia University.
Last fall a B-58 and a SAC combat crew demonstrated the capabilities of a remarkable airplane and the versatility of our nuclear striking command by making the longest supersonic flight in aviation history.
Friday March 07, 2014
The Senate rejected a
controversial bill that would have removed commanders’ authority to prosecute
sexual assaults, opting instead to maintain suchauthority and push
forward a different bill that provides special counsel to victims. The vote on
the first bill, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, was
55-to-45, five short of the 60 needed, reported
Reuters. “I always hoped we could do
the right thing here and deliver a military justice system that is free from
bias and conflict of interest; a military justice system that is worthy of the
brave men and women who fight for us,” said Gillibrand in a March 6 statement.
“As painful as today’s vote is, our struggle on behalf of the brave men and
women who serve in our military will go on.” The Senate unanimously voted to
proceed with the second bill, sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a
former sex crimes prosecutor, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and is expected
to vote on that bill Monday, reported Reuters.
“This debate has been about one thing, getting the policy right to best protect
and empower victims, and boost prosecutions of predators,” said McCaskill in
her own statement.
“I believe we’re on the cusp of achieving that goal.” (See also Competing
Amendments and Attacking
addition to divesting the entire fleet of A-10 close air support aircraft and
U-2 spyplanes, the Air Force’s Fiscal 2015 budget proposal looks to cut 51
F-15C fighters, leaving a fleet of 172 aircraft. The proposal also includes a
reduction of the planned 65 combat air patrols of medium-altitude remotely
piloted aircraft (MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers) down to 55. These cuts come
on top of steady reductions in force structure over the last few years,
including more than 300 fighters. USAF would also start divesting seven of its
31 E-3 AWACS aircraft in Fiscal 2015, but the remaining 24 airplanes would get
the Block 40/45 upgrade, which improves computing power and navigation
Air Force endstrength will take a steep nosedive in Fiscal 2015, dropping from
503,000 to 483,000, according to a budget
brief presented Tuesday. The cuts
are “driven by the divestiture of associated force structure [and] weapon
systems, headquarters realignment, and rebalancing of aircrew-to-cockpit ratios
in a post-Afghanistan environment,” states the brief. The Active Duty would
take the biggest hit, dropping from 328,000 in FY’14 to 311,000 in Fiscal 2015.
The Air Force Reserve is projected to lose 3,000 personnel in Fiscal 2015,
while Guard authorizations will remain steady at 105,000. Officials say they
will use targeted programs to meet the endstrength goals with an initial focus
on voluntary separations and retirements, though involuntary measures are a
possibility. Endstrength will continue to decrease through Fiscal 2019, though
at a much slower pace. According to budget documents, Active duty endstrength
is projected to be 308,000 in Fiscal 2019, the Air Force Reserve is projected
at 67,000, and the Air National Guard is listed at 104,000. Officials said airmen will
continue to receive a raise, though it will be held at one percent. Pay will be
frozen for general officers, according to the brief.
legislators pressed Defense Department leaders Thursday to clarify the
department’s actual “top line” in its Fiscal 2015 budget request. The proposal requests
$495.6 billion, but that number does not reflect an additional request for
some $26 billion from the so-called Opportunity Security and Growth Initiative,
which officials hope to use to buy back some modernization and readiness
accounts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told members of the House Armed Services Committee. In addition, the 2015 budget follows the caps
agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act last December, but asks for $115 billion
above sequester caps in the President’s five-year Future Years Defense Plan.
Hagel noted DOD did not get any adjustment in its numbers until the BBA was
passed in December, and rather than planning for a whole new FYDP, the department
decided to take some cuts now and defer others for later. “That’s why the
President has asked for $115 billion more, over the (FYDP),” Hagel said.
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale added that the five-year plan shows a gap
because of sequester-related uncertainty. “If Congress appropriates at a higher
level, we will fix the plans,” he said.
United States has more than doubled the number of fighter jets that are participating
in the Baltic air policing mission in response to rising tensions in the
Ukraine, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced. Six F-15Cs departed RAF
Lakenheath, Britain, and two KC-135 tankers departed RAF Mildenhall, Britain,
for Lithuania on Thursday to augment the mission at the request of Baltic
allies, according to a March 6 release.
The tankers carried more than 60 airmen who will join the nearly 150 airmen and
four F-15s from the 48th Fighter Wing that are currently deployed
to Šiauliai AB, Lithuania, as part of NATO's regular rotational mission. US
Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa also plans to boost exercises through
its F-16 and C-130 aviation detachments in Poland, states a March 5 release.
Hagel stressed the deployments are aimed at stabilizing and de-escalating
tensions in the region during testimony before the Senate Armed Services
Committee on Wednesday.
Barack Obama urged a diplomatic solution to rising tensions in Ukraine during
an hour-long phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on
Thursday, according to a White House release. During the conversation he urged Russian and Ukrainian
leaders to hold direct talks in which “international monitors could ensure that
the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians,” states
the release. He also urged Russian forces to return to their bases. The
conversation comes the same day Obama signed an executive order
authorizing sanctions or penalties on anyone who violates the “sovereignty or
territorial integrity of Ukraine,” according to a separate White House statement.
“We’ve taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of
our allies in Eastern Europe and to support the people of Ukraine,” said Obama.
Also on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reaffirmed the
alliance’s commitment to Ukraine, promising to “step up its partnership
cooperation through the NATO-Ukraine Commission to support democratic reforms,”
according to a NATO release. It
added, “This will include
bolstering ties with Ukraine’s political and military leadership, strengthening
efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military, and more joint
training and exercises.”
operations is a rare growth area in terms of both funding and manpower in the Fiscal
2015 budget request. Joint service special operations forces are slated to grow
from "60,000 troops today to 69,700,” highlighting a shift to light,
rapidly deployable forces, said Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale
during the budget rollout on Tuesday. Special operations budgets will likewise
blossom from $6.6 billion to $7.7 billion in Fiscal 2015, added Hale. Six
new-build C-130Js are earmarked for delivery this year, including four HC-130J
combat rescue aircraft and two MC-130J special operations Hercules. AFSOC is
now also slated for several of the MC-12W intelligence aircraft Air Combat
Command is divesting
to the Army, according to a March 4 release.
"We will continue to preserve our core capabilities while seeking
innovative solutions to balance and modernize our force," said Air Force
Special Operations Command boss Lt.
Gen. Eric Fiel.
Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, said “if left
unchecked” the number of foreign fighters in Syria will continue to grow.
“We’ve been able to apply pressure against the Al Qaeda network [in the CENTCOM
area of responsibility and] their activity has decreased,” Austin told members
of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. However, “we’ve seen their
activities increase,” in the places where the US has not put a lot of pressure, such
as in Syria, he added. To make things worse, the “refugee situation will
continue to put pressure on neighboring states,” such as Lebanon, Jordan, and
Turkey, causing more instability in an already unstable region. However, the
international community has made progress in destroying Syria’s chemical
weapons. Austin said 36 percent of the stockpile has been destroyed leading up to
a June 30 deadline. Though behind in the original projection, “we are probably
further along than many would have thought that we’d be,” he said.
Air Force should prioritize investment in long-range strike and intelligence
gathering assets that enable a Pacific power projection, according to a new
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study
that was co-authored by CSBA senior fellow Mark Gunzinger and retired Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, Dean of
AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. "It is time for Congress
and the Defense Department to take a hard look at the mix of combat air forces
that will be needed to sustain America’s asymmetric airpower advantage,"
states the report, which was released March 3. "This capability advantage
is beginning to wane as older systems lose their ability to penetrate and
persist in environments that are becoming increasingly contested," they
add. While DOD has begun shifting away
from counterinsurgency weapons to those needed to challenge advanced
anti-access threats, tight budgets and legacy force-structure threaten to blunt
investment. "Sustaining such an effort will require Congress and DOD to
maintain a strategic perspective in the allocation of increasingly scarce
defense resources," states the report.
In More Depth
In his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the Air Force as “one of my biggest headaches”—a perception USAF leaders were never able to turn around during his tenure.
Air Force Secretary Deborah James acknowledged the Air Force does “have a systemic problem” within its nuclear forces, though she said she is confident the mission itself remains strong.
After a 23-year seesaw legal battle in which both sides were at some point “up” by more than a billion dollars, the Navy and its A-12 contractors have put the A-12 controversy to rest with a settlement.
The Document File
Aircraft Accident Reports
10 Years Ago
Editorial: The Thirty Years’ War
The volunteer military has had its problems, but a conscript force would have even more.
Compressing the Kill Chain
The goal is to put weapons on time sensitive targets in “single-digit” minutes.
The Guard and Reserve Stand Fast
Guardsmen, Reservists, employers, and family members have stepped up to a bigger mission, but it has not been easy.
25 Years Ago
Editorial: Discriminate Deterrence
Russia's defense leaders are willing to take short-term risks in the hope that Gorbachev's economic reforms will sustain Soviet military power over the long term.
50 Years Ago
The Future of Manned Aircraft
In the debate over our strategic deterrent, manned aircraft are getting much the worse of the suppositions. Yet the new technology can be used to strengthen rather than weaken the arguments for manned aircraft.
The Great Deterrent Dialogue
Missiles, bombers, space weapons, arms control are all advanced as essential to deter general war. Many participants engaging in this debate are long on words, short on knowledge.