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.
Monday March 10, 2014
The Senate rejected a
controversial bill that would have removed commanders’ power to prosecute
sexual assaults, opting instead to push
forward different legislation that provides special counsel to victims but keeps such authority in the chain of command. 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
Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen.
Stephen Wilson said he expects Air Force missile crews to be up to full
strength by “late spring,” after reports of widespread cheating resulted in the
decertification of nearly half of the missileers at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.
Speaking during a March 5 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s
strategic forces panel, Wilson said the command is supplementing missile crews
while the investigation continues. Specifically, AFGSC has taken Minuteman III
crews from Minot AFB, N.D., and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., to augment operations at
Malmstrom, he said. “We [also] will shift the output coming out of the
schoolhouse at Vandenberg [AFB, Calif.],” he said. Although officials initially
anticipated Malmstrom-based crews would have
to work 10 alert shifts each month, Wilson said the workload has not
increased and each crew is still performing about eight alerts a month due to
supplemental rotations. Since the scandal broke in mid-January, the command has
been able to take best practices and ideas from all its missile wings and put
them to work at Malmstrom as the wing gets back to regular operations. “We’re
taking the opportunity to make each of the teams better,” Wilson said.
The Defense Department will update Congress this
spring on the status of its nuclear delivery vehicle modernization, said Elaine
Bunn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear policy. Speaking to
members of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel last
week, Bunn noted that there is a gap between the original plan, which was laid
out during the New START treaty debate in 2010 before sequester caps were
implemented, and the reality of the budget. At the time, the White House sent
an extensive plan to modernize and maintain the US nuclear arsenal between 2010
and 2020, which detailed over $100 billion of proposed modernization activities
for the Department of Defense’s delivery systems and infrastructure. The upcoming
report will address the modernization plan in more detail, Bunn said, but she
noted the Administration’s modernization goals “have not changed” since 2010.
“We’ve made considerable progress, but we have had to make some adjustments due
to fiscal constraints.” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) jumped on this, asking Bunn
if DOD was “significantly behind” its modernization plan for both platforms and
the warhead stockpile. Bunn declined to detail exact figures, noting the
funding “is not what we thought” in the updated report coming out, but the nuclear
triad continues to receive priority in the President’s Budget.
North Korea "remains one of the United
States' most critical security challenges," according to the Defense
Department's annual threat report
on the country to Congress. The country's large but outdated military force
"retains the capability to inflict serious damage" on neighboring
Republic of Korea, and is prevented "primarily due to the strength of the
U.S.-ROK Alliance," states the report, which was released March 5. The
Communist regime continues to develop its intermediate and long-range nuclear
ballistic missile capabilities, conducting its third nuclear test last
February. The report cites North Korea's "willingness to proliferate
weapons" of mass destruction in violation of international norms as a serious
secondary concern to the US. "Given North Korea’s unwillingness to abide
by these commitments" the US plans to continue "close
coordination," notably with South Korean and Japanese allies to
"manage" North Korean security threats, the report's executive
Frame: Two F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 391st
Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, park on the flightline at Nellis
AFB, Nev., as the sun sets during Red Flag 14-1 on Feb.10, 2014. (Air Force photo by Lorenz Crespo) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper
F-35 production is holding steady with plans to
churn out between 36 and 38 airframes this year, said Program Executive Officer
Gen. Christopher Bogdan. The main challenges for the F-35 strike fighter program are
completing airframe modifications and software upgrades on the 58-strong
operational fleet, he added. "We simply cannot afford to have to do things
twice on this program," Bogdan said in a March 4 Air Force release.
"We don’t have the time, and we don’t have the money. We know what our
commitments are, and we’re going to do everything we can to deliver them,"
he added. The software enhancements currently in testing will link the F-35's
sensors to other aircraft and information to give the fighter its signature
edge. Over the next two years, F-35 production is scheduled to increase to 43
airframes, "then up into the mid-60s and then three years from now, over a
hundred," said Bodgan.
Medical technology has come a long way after
more than decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Jonathan Woodson,
assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. These innovative methods
developed on the ground have led to advances in caring for the sick and injured
at home, he said. Speaking at a Reserve Officer Association event last week,
Woodson said that the trauma system and other advances of combat medicine have
contributed to the lowest death rate in the history of recorded warfare,
according to a March 6 release.
However, it’s also created greater challenges in rehabilitation. He noted that
combat care goes beyond treating physical wounds; brain or spinal cord
injuries, pain management issues, and sensory loss are all issues that may need
to be addressed during the rehabilitation process, he said. “We need to
customize the rehabilitation strategy to the individual,” he said. “Our mantra
is to ‘create the ability, not define disability.’” (DOD report by
Terri Moon Cronk)
The F-22 Raptor will participate
in the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show at Offutt AFB, Neb., for
the first time since 2010, announced Air Combat Command in a March 4 release. “We're pleased to have the most sought-after
single ship demonstration act in the world scheduled for our show,” said Col.
Gregory Guillot, commander of the 55th Wing at Offutt. The Raptor will join the
Navy’s Blue Angels, the Navy Parachute Team the Leap Frogs, and famous aircraft
fliers and their aircraft. “If you were to ask any air show director what
performers they'd like to have at their show, they'd say the Blue Angels and
the F-22, so we've nailed it,” said Maj. Brian Burger, the director of the air
show. The show will be held July 19-20.
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.