An Air Force B-1B bomber crashed into the Indian Ocean at about 11 p.m. local time some 30 miles north of Diego Garcia, Pentagon officials announced Dec. 12.
The bomber’s four crew members bailed out and were rescued by a US Navy destroyer.
US Central Command officials said that a USAF KC-10 refueling aircraft circled the location of the ditched crew until USS Russell picked them up. The tanker spotted a light blinking at the crash site and had made voice contact with one of the crew, said CENTCOM.
This is the first fixed-wing US warplane lost since Operation Enduring Freedom began Oct. 7.
Two Black Hawk helicopters have crashed, one in Pakistan with two fatalities and one in Afghanistan. Officials indicated bad weather or poor visibility due to dust may have caused those two crashes.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters Nov. 27 the situation in Afghanistan is “difficult and dangerous” even with more than 75 percent of the country in the hands of anti-Taliban forces.
“The war is not over,” he said.
Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew to Tampa, Fla., to receive an update on the situation from Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the Commander in Chief of US Central Command, which is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base.
Franks is the theater CINC responsible for operations in the Middle East and Southwest and Central Asia. This includes activity in and around Afghanistan.
At a press conference in Tampa, Rumsfeld and Franks emphasized to reporters that Taliban and al Qaeda forces are going to ground in Afghanistan, while others may be attempting to flee.
Rumsfeld stressed that it is likely that Taliban and al Qaeda deserters and defectors may still hide in some cities and in the rugged countryside.
He noted that broadcasts from USAF Commando Solo aircraft and leaflets they had dropped offering a reward for information on Osama bin Laden were starting to show results. US forces are receiving many tips from people interested in the reward.
In Franks’s words, the noose is tightening. He added that CENTCOM may establish a forward base for the command in the region.
At the Tampa briefing, CENTCOM chief Franks revealed that US ground forces have found lab paraphernalia, chemical compositions, and materials at about 40 locations around Afghanistan.
He confirmed that there is the possibility the terrorists may have been making Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld left no doubt as to the dispositon of any WMD materials. “You can be certain if Weapons of Mass Destruction are found in Afghanistan, we would remove them from the country,” he said.
“This is non-negotiable,” Rumsfeld declared.
As opposition groups have taken over more and more territory, US troops in Afghanistan have been able to search facilities abandoned by retreating Taliban and al Qaeda forces.
“We’ve acquired a great deal of samples,” Franks stated. The samples are being tested in the US.
The numbers keep mounting in the effort to fight starvation in Afghanistan. As of early December, Pentagon officials said USAF C-17s had air-dropped more than two million Humanitarian Daily Rations.
US forces began dropping the HDRs on Oct. 7, the same day that coalition aircraft began delivering bombs against al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. C-17 crews have dropped 35,000 or more HDRs daily.
According to Joseph J. Collins, deputy assistant secretary of defense for peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs, Afghanistan was already a country in the middle of a full-blown humanitarian crisis, the result of a generation of war, four years of drought, and continued underdevelopment.
“This has made humanitarian assistance to distressed populations an integral part of the Defense Department’s overall policy,” he told reporters in mid-November.
“In fact, in the first week of November, before the apparent collapse of the Taliban, UN World Food Program deliveries doubled the pace of their October deliveries, and their October deliveries had been a record for the past few years,” said Collins.
“The reality is clear; our military actions have not slowed humanitarian assistance, but rather, care in the field and coordination among the various agencies involved has made it possible to both fight successfully and to accelerate humanitarian assistance at the same time,” he emphasized.
Collins noted that it was the Taliban that had been the single greatest obstacle to providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. As the Taliban has been removed, humanitarian efforts have gotten easier.
As the first month of Operation Enduring Freedom was wrapping up, the air campaign boss said that bombers carried the load for the first part of the air war.
However, Air Force land-based strike aircraft and US Navy aircraft flown from aircraft carriers also joined the campaign, particularly against smaller moving targets, said Lt. Gen. Charles F. Wald, who was the joint forces air component commander. He is now USAF’s deputy chief of staff for air and space operations.
The heavy air assault, conducted largely by B-52, B-1B, and B-2 bombers during the first month, achieved most of its goals, said Wald, and the focus of the operation shifted to Taliban and al Qaeda forces on the ground in Afghanistan.
“At this point we’ve pretty much taken care of the Taliban air force. It’s pretty much gone,” Wald said while visiting US forces in Southwest Asia. “We’ve taken care of all of their aircraft. … We’ve hit all their airfields. We’ve taken out all of their surface-to-air missiles, and now we’re striking their ground forces in a large way.”
During the first month of air attacks, bombers and fighter jets struck strategic targets, including airfields, aircraft, vehicles, anti-aircraft missile sites, and much of the military infrastructure in the country. The campaign then began also to target Taliban and al Qaeda ground forces, particularly to aid the Northern Alliance rebels fighting in the north and Pashtun rebels in the south.
The air campaign helped the opposition forces to take control of 75 percent of the country, according to Pentagon officials. US special operations forces on the ground aided in identifying targets for the air strikes.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think the Taliban really realize how bad off they have it, so we’ll just continue hitting their army in the field and destroy them as we go along,” said Wald.
“There’s a lot of hills in Afghanistan,” he added. “There’s places to hide. But we’ll eventually find them. We’re going to stick with this until the end.”
Pentagon officials confirmed in late November that the high-tech Joint STARS and Global Hawk airborne surveillance systems were in use over Afghanistan.
Both systems had received their deployment orders in early November, but officials initially declined to comment on their specific use.
Joint STARS aircraft made their debut in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 while still in Research and Development. The Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is currently in its R&D phase.
“Global Hawk is in the theater; it is flying,” USMC Gen. Peter Pace, the JCS vice chairman, told reporters Nov. 21.
“It is still very much in the Research and Development phase of its development,” he said. “But in fact, this theater now provides us a tremendous laboratory in which to use it, so it is flying, and it will be part of our ability to collect information and intelligence.”
The Global Hawk UAV flies higher and can dwell longer than the Predator UAV, which was employed earlier during Operation Enduring Freedom.
When queried about the possibility of Taliban or al Qaeda leaders fleeing Afghanistan aboard low-flying aircraft, Pace replied, “As you know, the J-STARS aircraft is capable of tracking that kind of movement.”
Pace said that coalition forces had destroyed two or three more aircraft in the last couple of weeks. “I do not know whether or not they were flying at the time they were destroyed,” he added.
The Air Force has been particularly careful when bombing Taliban targets to avoid injuring innocent civilians, which the Taliban attempted to use as a platform to stir unrest against the US-led operation in Afghanistan, according to Lt. Gen. Charles Wald, who headed the initial air campaign for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Taliban claims that the air campaign was causing massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan were “lies” designed to inflame Muslims in states supporting the war against terrorism, said Wald.
“I think that the problem will be as we go down through this path and you see the lies that the Taliban put on TV, it’s emotionally volatile for the Muslim world. We have to be very careful which targets we hit and how we hit those targets.”
At the fifth week of strikes on Taliban and al Qaeda forces, US aircrews had dropped more than 1,500 bombs on targets in Afghanistan, Wald said. Of those, only two missed their targets. Satellite-guided bombs have hit all targets without a miss.
Two misses by laser-guided munitions did cause some collateral damage, Wald said. However, Taliban claims of numerous civilian casualties after almost every US mission were part of the al Qaeda effort to convince the Islamic world that the United States has been targeting Muslims with the air strikes, he added.
Much of the credit for the bombing accuracy goes to the crews flying the missions, Wald said. Many of the land-based strike aircraft pilots are USAF reservists with extensive experience flying combat missions.
Aircrews have returned with full munitions loads when they haven’t been able to find a target without risking collateral damage.
“I think the airmen involved … can be unbelievably proud of themselves,” Wald said. “It’s just really incredible how well we’ve all done in that case.”
As Enduring Freedom entered its fifth week, members of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group Munitions Maintenance Squadron continued to build bombs and more bombs.
The pace has been fast and the workday long.
“The motivation has been big since we engaged in Enduring Freedom,” said MSgt. John Sedbrook, senior munitions inspector. “People come in, and they want to start building bombs.”
The squadron provides an assembly line for munitions known as “tank killers,” ” bunker busters,” and “5,000-pound penetrators.” Seven sections of munitions specialists worked 12-hour shifts to feed the bombing needs of the air campaign.
Once built the bombs are moved along the airfield on well-balanced trailers. Weapons loaders then put the bombs on the aircraft that will strike targets deep in Afghanistan.
Ammo airmen say the most satisfying feelings come when they see a warplane that departs fully loaded, then returns with nothing aboard but a smiling pilot.
“It’s nice to see the munitions trailer go out full and come back empty,” said SrA. Chris Jones. “You know your job was done.”
Amn. Thomas Adamcik called the work “a privilege.” And A1C Nick Pippin said the squadron’s role in the war against terrorism is the “experience of a lifetime.”
The 315th Operations Group was the first group from Air Force Reserve Command to participate in delivery of Humanitarian Daily Rations into Afghanistan when their C-17 aircrews made the 6,500-mile round-trip from Germany on Oct. 7, opening day of Enduring Freedom.
The group is part of the 315th Airlift Wing, based at Charleston AFB, S.C.
“We fly about 20 percent of the [Charleston] missions on any given day,” said Brig. Gen. Jerry Black, 315th AW commander. “When a time like this comes, they need us more, and we know that.”
“We have some of the most experienced C-17 pilots in the world,” he added. “When they see the need, they step up to the plate.”
Each aircrew had about 10 members. They performed tactical terrain planning and reviewed the threats in a complete team effort-pilots, intelligence, everyone, said Col. James B. Roberts Jr., 315th OG commander.
AFRC aircrews volunteered for the missions, said officials.
After a month’s delay, Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley has replaced Lt. Gen. Charles Wald as commander of 9th Air Force and US Central Command Air Forces–thus taking on duties as the joint forces air component commander for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Moseley, who was director of USAF’s legislative liaison office, was scheduled to replace Wald at 9th Air Force, headquartered at Shaw AFB, S.C., in late September, but the move was postponed to prevent any possible confusion as plans for Enduring Freedom began to take shape, said USAF officials.
Wald has now assumed the position of USAF’s deputy chief of staff for air and space operations at the Pentagon.
Moseley commands 9th Air Force’s six wings, with more than 350 aircraft and 26,000 active duty members. His US Central Command duties include responsibility for developing contingency plans and conducting air operations in a 20-plus-nation area, including the Arabian Peninsula and Southwest Asia to Pakistan.
Many USAF bomber crews have been flying from 12 to 15 hours on sorties from their temporary base at Diego Garcia to strike targets in Afghanistan and return to the Indian Ocean atoll.
Each round-trip sortie may involve extended stays over Afghanistan and can be more than 5,500 miles long.
A bomber pilot, called “Lucky,” who flew 12 missions during Operation Allied Force, said Afghan air defenses don’t compare to those he faced over Kosovo. He added that aircrews receive excellent air defense intelligence, but they remain vigilant in the air.
“You’re definitely looking [for threats] the whole time you’re there,” he said.
A bomber weapons system officer, called “Bama,” said that on the long flight back to base there is a bit of a letdown once the bombers are over the ocean and headed home.
“You’re more relaxed, in a sense,” she added. “But at the same time, our feet aren’t on the ground, and we still have a lot more flying to do.”
With the hours needed for mission planning, each sortie lasts about 24 hours. As they fly toward their target, the aircrews go through potential problems or threats they may encounter.
At Diego Garcia, 12-hour shifts are standard for the support team that keeps the bombers flying. When the unit arrived at the atoll from their home base at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., troops worked around the clock for three weeks to beddown their bombers.
“Otis,” a maintenance operations center controller, said that despite the long hours, the troops did not complain. “We’re extremely focused on the task at hand,” he said.
In November a US Central Command assessment team visited Tajikistan to examine three military installations as possible areas to base US forces battling terrorism in Afghanistan.
That visit may have paid off, according to a Nov. 10 Washington Times report quoting “two military sources” who said Tajikistan had agreed to use of an airfield. The number of aircraft may be limited to about 50.
The CENTCOM team assessment followed a visit to Tajikistan by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who had discussed the possibility of a larger role for the country in the war against terrorism. Tajikistan borders Afghanistan.
Tajikistan had already approved overflights by coalition aircraft and was providing some intelligence for Enduring Freedom.
The CENTCOM team looked at three bases: Kulyab, Khujand, and Turgan-Tiube. Tajikistan already permits Russia to station its 201st Motorized Infantry Division at Kulyab and overall has about 20,000 Russian troops in the country.
The use of a base in Tajikistan will enable USAF to station fighter or attack aircraft, or possibly both, close enough to conduct unlimited tactical strikes within Afghanistan.
Most of the tactical missions to date have been flown by US Navy fighters from aircraft carriers, while USAF employed long-range bombers.
Air National Guard personnel from the 106th Air Refueling Squadron in Birmingham, Ala., deployed to Turkey to air refuel the multinational aircraft supporting Enduring Freedom.
They refuel two to three airplanes during a mission, usually the C-17s bound for Afghanistan, but they also provide top-off for other coalition aircraft.
The unit deployed two KC-135Rs and 24 troops to support the demanding mission, including pilots, boom operators, crew chiefs, administration troops, life support personnel, and intelligence officers.
The 106th was airborne less than 23 hours after being notified.
After a nine-hour flight to RAF Mildenhall, UK, the team waited 16 hours on the ground for diplomatic clearance and then flew a final five hours to Turkey.
“Sure there was some uncertainty when we started, but everyone in the unit came together quickly,” said Capt. Allen King, 106th ARS copilot. “We walked in one day and they said be ready to deploy early in the morning. They activated us for a year, and here we are doing what we do best.”
Crews of three in each KC-135 circle and wait to off-load thousands of pounds of fuel.
“Every time I refuel it’s exciting,” said MSgt. Caroline Bearden, 106th ARS boom operator. “This is the Super Bowl of air refueling. It’s great doing our part.”
The events of Sept. 11 created a shared sense of urgency and a common sense of purpose, Tom Ridge, director of the nation’s new Homeland Security Office said Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C.
“The principal challenge for homeland security is, in fact, to focus all of the resources at our disposal,” he said.
Ridge explained that he intends “to create a comprehensive national strategy for homeland defense.” He specified national rather than federal, he said, because the strategy will “tap the creative genius and resources of both the public and private sector” and “involve all levels of government, federal, state, and local.”
“We need to be able to detect and deter terrorist threats before they happen-and, if America is attacked again, to be able to trigger a seamless system of rapid response and recovery,” Ridge said.
He said that like the Defense Department, Homeland Security would take a “long-range approach to its budget needs.” It will have a multi-year budget that cuts across all agencies.
And, as part of the strategy, he plans to identify “the gap between where we are today and where we seek to be tomorrow.”
He said cracks in the system will be repaired and strengths will be enhanced. However, he noted, “when you’re dealing with people as audacious and as calculating and as determined and as evil as terrorists, no system will ever be 100 percent fail-safe and perfect.”
“We’re going to try to get as close to perfect as possible,” he maintained.
He added that the strategy would be forward-looking and require “doing things a little bit differently than we have in the past.” One of the areas he’s looking at is the role DOD has in homeland defense.
“At first blush, the most obvious component of the DOD force structure to have a role with domestic security will be the National Guard,” he said. He plans to work with governors and DOD to determine what that role should be.
“If it requires changing the configuration of some units or redeploying some of the assets in a different way, certainly that’s got to be something we want to consider-and we will consider.”
DOD officials have enacted health care system changes to aid reservists and their families following the Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom call-up to active duty.
The most significant change is a national demonstration project that waives all Tricare deductibles for care received since Sept. 14 by family members of activated reservists.
Since many of these families probably paid deductibles for civilian health plans earlier in the year, Tricare officials decided it would be unfair to ask them to pay again just because their sponsor was called up toward the end of the year.
Another change is that Tricare will pay for up to 115 percent of what is usually allowed for care under existing guidelines. Tricare officials said this will help reservists who live far from active military facilities in areas that don’t have Tricare provider networks. Without the rule change, families of reservists could have wound up paying more out of pocket.
A third change is a waiver of the need for reservist family members to obtain nonavailability statements before receiving care from a civilian provider. The move will enable reserve families to continue seeing a civilian provider with whom they have an established relationship.
DOD officials said families of reservists called up for at least 30 days are eligible to use Tricare benefits. Families of those activated for at least 179 days are also eligible to enroll in Tricare Prime, which is an HMO-type plan.
Reservists can get more information on these new provisions at www.tricare.osd.mil/reserve/default.htm.
Despite news media reports citing blue as the new color for Humanitarian Daily Ration packs being air-dropped into Afghanistan, the new color has not been decided, DOD officials said.
The Pentagon did say the color of the packs, currently yellow, would be changed to avoid confusion with yellow canisters used for cluster bombs. But no one said the new color would be blue, stated Air Force Maj. Mike Halbig, a Defense Department spokesman.
“We’re still evaluating and researching what the right color should be,” he said. “We want to avoid offending any cultural or religious sensibilities.”
Although DOD has no reports of anyone being hurt by confusing the ration packs with munitions, officials believe a color change is needed.
Halbig said there are “very rare occasions” that the bomblets don’t explode on impact, “but because of the potential seriousness of the situation, we don’t want there to be any confusion.”
DOD announced Nov. 1 an expansion of the areas in which service members are eligible for imminent danger pay and hardship duty pay.
Imminent danger pay is $150 per month. Service members need only spend one day in an imminent danger area during the month to receive this pay.
Kyrgyzstan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan have been added to the list of imminent danger areas. Also added are the waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Gulf of Oman. Service members serving on the Arabian Sea–north of 10 degrees north latitude and west of 68 degrees east longitude–will also receive the pay.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan were earlier designated imminent danger pay areas.
DOD also designated Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines as imminent danger areas for pay purposes.
The time clock on the new locations started in October.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan were designated as hardship duty locations at the monthly rate of $100. The hardship duty pay for Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as Jakarta, Surabaya, and East Timor, Indonesia, was lowered from $150 per month to $100 per month.
The reduction was necessary, explained Pentagon officials, because both imminent danger and hardship duty pay have personal security costs built in to them, and service members cannot be compensated twice for personal security reasons.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced Nov. 15 the stationing plan for five additional National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Teams. The new teams were authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2001.
The teams, which are scheduled to be set up by Fiscal 2003, will be stationed in Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
They will assist state governors with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents as part of a state’s emergency response structure. Each team consists of 22 full-time National Guard members who are federally resourced, trained, and exercised.
Officials stated that selection criteria for the new locations included coverage of major metropolitan areas based on population density; minimizing overlap with existing WMD-CSTs and other DOD response elements; and availability of existing facilities and support capabilities.
A month earlier, the Pentagon notified Congress that it now had 10 teams certified ready to perform the new mission. The 10th team certified was the 4th WMD-CST, which is stationed at Dobbins ARB, Ga.
This was the last of the 10 teams authorized by the Fiscal 1999 defense appropriations act. Another 17 teams were authorized in Fiscal 2000.
These latest five bring the total number of National Guard WMD-CSTs to 32.
Guard and Reserve members make up nearly 50 percent of the total armed forces, according to Craig W. Duehring, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.
So far, more than 50,000 Guardsmen and Reservists have been called up to reinforce active duty units participating in Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.
“We get a lot of questions from service members and their families who are going through this very disruptive process,” said Duehring.
For the reservists themselves, officials devised a set of rules and guidelines for the mobility process and the time they would spend on active duty. That information is available on the reserve affairs Web site at http://www.defenselink.mil/ra.
For their families, Duehring said, “We’ve created a family tool kit.” It is also available on the reserve affairs Web site.
Duehring added that these recent call-ups have been an “unsettling time” for Guardsmen and Reservists and their employers. He said the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve has been busy seven days a week.
Service members and employers seeking information can call 1-800-336-4590 or go to the employer support Web site at www.esgr.org.
Air Mobility Command announced Nov. 6 that it will reduce the number of its lead mobility wings from five to two. The new structure will begin with Aerospace Expeditionary Cycle 3 in March.
Officials said the change is the natural evolution of the lead mobility wing structure, which was introduced by then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan in March 1999 as part of the Air Force’s new Expeditionary Aerospace Force concept.
The two new lead mobility wings will be the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., and the 305th AMW at McGuire AFB, N.J.
The original five wings were the 43rd Airlift Wing, Pope AFB, N.C.; 60th AMW, Travis; 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, Kan.; 319th ARW, Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; and 92nd ARW, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
Along with the wing’s primary mobility mission, a lead mobility wing provides mobility leadership for an AEF and a 33-member initial response team for humanitarian relief operations, disaster response, and contingencies.
One reason for the selection of Travis and McGuire as the lead mobility wings was to link them with existing Air Mobility Operations Groups-the 615th AMOG at Travis and the 621st AMOG at McGuire. The AMOGs provide expertise in mobile command and control and airfield operations.
“The realignment gives these two wings and their collocated AMOGs the primary mission for short-notice humanitarian response and releases the other wings from this additional duty,” said Col. Steve Hellwege, chief of AMC’s operations plans division. “Our former [lead mobility wings] will go on with their core mobility missions and will continue to support other aspects of the AEF.”
The new structure will bring AMC’s wings in alignment with Air Combat Command’s two combat-response wings, known as Aerospace Expeditionary Wings, Hellwege said. “The AEWs will respond to combat situations while we handle mobility operations.”
The choice of Travis and McGuire is a natural also because they are stationed at USAF’s major East and West Coast mobility hubs, he said. “There will be more airlift assets immediately available to move our equipment and people.”
Gen. Hal M.Hornburg officially assumed command of Air Combat Command on Nov. 14, becoming ACC’s sixth commander.
He came to the job from his post as commander of Air Education and Training Command, but it was old home week, since he had served as ACC’s vice commander prior to that.
He replaced Gen. John P. Jumper as ACC commander, but Jumper became Air Force Chief of Staff in September. In the meantime, ACC’s current vice commander, Lt. Gen. Donald G. Cook, was acting commander.
Hornburg directed air operations over Bosnia, commanded the Joint Warfighting Center, and served on the joint staff and as director of operations at Air Force headquarters.
Jumper, who attended the ceremony, said, “Serious times call for the best and brightest. Hal Hornburg’s one of those leaders.”
Hornburg said he has three missions for ACC: development of airmen, preparedness to deploy, and readiness to fight.
“If there’s a call for boots on the ground, we want to be the force that kicks down the door … so that soldiers and Marines won’t have to wade through their own blood as they win this war or the next one,” he said.
President Bush signed the $10.5 billion Military Construction Appropriations Act of 2002 into law Nov. 5. It was more than he asked for, with a major exception.
The Administration originally asked for $9.97 billion. Congress added to the amount but also took away $55 million earmarked for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
The act provides $4.1 billion for military family housing. Of that, $1.2 billion goes to new family housing units and improvements to existing units and the rest to operations and maintenance of existing units. It also funds $1.2 billion for barracks, $44 million for child development centers, $199 million for health care facilities, and $953 million earmarked for the reserve components.
However, the President said, “I am disappointed that the bill includes a 1.127 percent general reduction and a rescission of $55 million from the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.”
The names of about 195,000 Tricare for Life beneficiaries did not match their files on Medicare rolls, so those individuals had to file their medical claims themselves, according to DOD officials. It was a temporary problem, they said.
Without a name match Medicare claims processors could not allow automatic claims processing.
Tricare for Life is the new DOD program for military retirees and their family members who are age 65 or over. It started in October.
According to Steve Lillie, Tricare’s director of 65-and-over benefits, the names of roughly 13 percent of eligible Tricare for Life beneficiaries didn’t match with their files in the Medicare rolls. He said they were still eligible for benefits, but they would have to take one extra step: They would probably need to file Tricare claims themselves if their provider sent a bill for what remained after Medicare paid its share.
In general, the bill-paying process should be automatic.
Shortly after they identified the problem in mid-October during a routine review of the program, Tricare officials sent affected beneficiaries letters explaining the problem and telling them how best to handle it.
The problem was to be resolved by Dec. 1, at which time officials said all claims would automatically be forwarded to Tricare. Lillie also stressed that the issue was “a temporary glitch” and said claims would be paid regardless.
A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile succeeded across all parameters during a flight test Nov. 20. The missile’s next stop is a low rate initial production decision.
JASSM is a stealthy cruise missile with a 1,000-pound-class warhead that can tackle soft or deeply buried, hardened structures. Its range is classified, but Air Force officials said it is beyond 230 miles.
In the November test, an F-16 cruising at 500 miles per hour at 15,000 feet launched the missile over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Officials said the JASSM flew exactly as planned through three way points for nine minutes over a distance of about 50 miles, then “impacted within a lethal distance of the relocatable radar target, and the warhead exploded.”
“All systems, including the engine, guidance, and fuze arming, performed flawlessly,” stated a USAF news release.
Both the Air Force and the Navy plan to purchase JASSM. Initially the USAF buy was set at 2,400, but that number may increase.
On Nov. 14, Air Force Reserve Command gained a new squadron–the 370th Flight Test Squadron–and Air Force Materiel Command gained some much needed assistance. The new unit is an associate flight-test support unit that will work with AFMC’s 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, Calif.
The Reservists will take over flight-test support functions, said Lt. Col. Howard Judd, 370th FLTS commander, thus freeing active duty test pilots, engineers, and others to focus more on the developmental flight-test mission at Edwards.
When the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards needs help with flight-test, airborne research platforms, and training missions, the members of the 370th will step up. The unit can operate C-135 tanker and test bed platforms, as well as C-12, KC-10, and T-39 aircraft.
The 370th will also support the USAF Test Pilot School with its multiengine curriculum and maintain a detachment at Kirtland AFB, N.M.
Judd said he expects the unit to go beyond flight-test support. For instance, he said many missions require a TPS graduate to pilot a tanker that is providing air refueling certification for a new aircraft like the Joint Strike Fighter. “We have four TPS graduate test pilots in the squadron so far.”
The 370th FLTS is manned by Active Guard Reservists, which means they are full-time reservists operationally assigned to an active duty component, and traditional reservists who work part time.
“Many of our people came from the Edwards test aircrew force and are already qualified on the types of aircraft used here,” said Judd. “Also, most are qualified to fly more than one type of aircraft.”
“This saves the center money in training costs,” he said. “Since Reserve tours can be up to five years or more in one location, as opposed to every two or three years for our active duty counterparts, we can provide more stability to the flight-test support functions.”
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announced Nov. 26 establishment of the Office of Force Transformation, with retired Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski as director.
Creation of the transformation office was directed by the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review.
“Art Cebrowski is the perfect guy to promote and analyze our transformation efforts,” said Rumsfeld. “I chose him for his broad military experience, his strong credentials in joint operations and information technology, and his grasp of the cultural and technical issues involved in transformation.”
Cebrowski, who will report directly to Rumsfeld and the deputy secretary of defense, has been called the “father of network-centric warfare.”
He retired from the Navy in October 2001 after serving as president of the Naval War College. He was a naval aviator and gained combat experience in Vietnam and the Gulf War. He commanded several ships and was the director of command, control, and communications on the Joint Staff.
His job will be to lead the effort to evaluate transformation activities of each of the services. He will also recommend steps that may be needed to help integrate those activities and link them to both national and departmental strategy.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans for a National Veterans Museum Nov. 8 to be established in Washington, D.C.
“Our nation’s veterans have made tremendous contributions to our country and its history,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi. “This new museum will tell that story to generations of Americans, both born and not yet born.”
The new museum will be located at VA headquarters at 810 Vermont Ave. N.W.
“It will tell a story of homecoming-the universal experience shared by every soldier returning from every war, and the challenges they face as they return to family, friends, and community,” read a VA statement.
Principi also plans to link the museum with the capital’s other veterans memorials, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Women in Military Service to America Memorial, and the World War II Memorial now under construction.
No timetable was announced for construction of the museum.
Five firms received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Nov. 9 for their contributions and sacrifices as employers of National Guard and Reserve members.
More than 12,000 companies were considered for the annual award, the highest military honor given to civilian companies.
Award recipients this year are Southwest Airlines; Boeing; Electronic Data Systems; BAE Systems; and the city of Bedford, Va.
The companies were also honored at a White House ceremony with President Bush, who noted that more than 50,000 National Guard and Reserve members have been called up to help fight terrorism since Sept. 11.
He said they’re guarding energy plants, meeting the military’s intelligence, medical, and supply needs, and helping secure the nation’s airports.
“We’re fighting a war on many fronts,” Bush said. “It’s a diplomatic war, it’s a financial war. The military is performing brilliantly in Afghanistan. And we could not win the war without the help of the Guard and the Reservists.
“And they, in turn, could not do their vital work without the support of their employers.”
DOD established the award in 1996. Employers are nominated by their state Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Committee, based on input from Guardsmen and Reservists.
The Defense Department’s concerns about anthrax began much earlier than the post-Sept. 11 anthrax attack on the nation that has focused American attention on bioterrorism.
DOD had been battling a growing anti-anthrax vaccination movement since it first began ordering military members to get immunized in 1998. Some active duty and reserve members were reluctant to get vaccinated because some people had become seriously ill.
The problem, according to Pentagon officials, was largely misinformation.
To help provide a means to share information more readily, DOD created the Vaccine Healthcare Center Network. The Pentagon announced in November that the first center of the network had opened at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Several more centers are set to open at regional DOD medical centers in the United States in 2002, leading up to a total of 15 regional centers by 2006, said Army Col. Renata Engler, the medical director of the network.
“These vaccine health care centers would work as a network to share information, not just internally but with the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, too, as questions arise surrounding a vaccine,” she said.
Engler’s organization is also working with various agencies to develop contingency plans in case DOD decides to vaccinate military personnel against smallpox. As with the anthrax vaccine there are concerns about possible adverse events with smallpox vaccine, said Engler.
“We need to do everything we can to give the right shot to the right person at the right time in the right way.”
Service members 20 years ago received “a handful” of vaccines but now routinely take more than 50 shots during their careers. And another 30 vaccines are in the development stage. They could be introduced into the immunization requirements over the next five years.
Engler stressed that adverse reactions and drug reactions occur in one to two percent of individuals with any drug. Even that small percentage, she noted, in a large enough population can create problems.
“That’s 20,000 to 40,000 people in a population of two million,” she said. Through the newly established network, Engler hopes to gain greater knowledge of rare adverse events and ultimately to improve immunization health care delivery overall.
In December the Air Force launched a new addition to its Crossroads Web site–Quality-of-Life quick polls. The polls are short, consisting of only a few questions.
The first poll had only two questions, said Lt. Col. Bruce Lovely, Air Force QOL chief. One pertained to demographics and the other related to a QOL item or issue. All questions will have multiple-choice answers.
“The poll will be used to develop and target future QOL initiatives,” Lovely said. “However, the primary purpose of the quick poll is to increase the Quality-of-Life awareness level across the Air Force.”
The results will not be scientific since they only reflect the opinions of the participants, Lovely said. Respondents can instantly view submission results by clicking on the results button.
It’s almost business as usual for USAF forces in some locations despite the ongoing operations in Afghanistan. Usual, of course, includes training to do their jobs.
In Japan, the annual Cope North exercise, a test of USAF, US Marine Corps, and Japan’s air self-defense force ability to defend Japan was scaled back to about one-third its normal size and cut from two weeks to one. Nonetheless, that didn’t necessarily make it easier to pull off.
“We tabled the original plan and started from scratch about a month ago,” said planner Maj. Anton Komatz. “We compressed an eight-month project into about three weeks. Fifth Air Force and all the units involved demonstrated a great deal of flexibility to get this exercise off the ground.”
At the height of the exercise, more than 24 aircraft battled for air supremacy. Typical scenarios were set up to test a fighter pilot’s ability to defend territory from intrusion. The first day included two-ship flights defending territory under peacetime rules of engagement. As the scenario unfolded, the missions involved more aircraft, flying under wartime rules.
Both American and Japanese fighter aircraft acted as either attackers or defenders, rotating the role. The objective was to develop proficiency in the defensive counterair role.
The exercise also proved that interoperability works well in Japan. “In some cases, Japanese weapons directors provided advisory control to assist US fighters, and in other cases US weapons directors controlled or advised the Japanese fighters,” said Col. Don Weckhorst, exercise director.
Air Education and Training Command officials recently increased the number of 7-level craftsman courses on the command’s e-training Web site. The site now includes links to more than 1,000 courses.
“AETC’s Advanced Distributed Learning program is growing at a phenomenal rate,” said MSgt. Brian Burton of the command’s ADL branch. “The ability to take effective, interactive training to the learner, anytime, anywhere, is a powerful means of preparing today’s airmen for tomorrow’s challenges.”
ADL is a DOD-sponsored initiative to explore and use advanced technologies and the Internet to enhance traditional instruction methods.
One big advantage is the potential to reduce the length of Temporary Duty stays at in-residence courses, even eliminating the need to travel in some cases.
Currently, technical training craftsman courses dominate the e-training site, but that is slated to change, said Dave Searcey from the ADL branch.
“Prototype ADL lessons for F-15 and F-16 aircrew training are being developed this year, with other weapons systems under review,” he said. “The potential for the Air Force, not just AETC, is huge.”
Graduate training programs could also benefit from ADL. Many of these programs, such as aircraft commander or instructor qualification courses, require aircrew personnel to return to the schoolhouse where they spend the first three to eight days in academics.
Through ADL, they could complete a portion of the training program online at their home unit, thus reducing the total number of TDY days, Searcey said.
The origin of promotion test questions has puzzled many enlisted members of the Air Force. The answer basically, according to USAF officials, is that they come from individuals just like themselves.
Each year, subject matter experts from throughout the Air Force gather to revise some 320 tests, said Monty Stanley, chief of the Air Force Occupational Measurement Squadron test development flight at Randolph AFB, Tex. Those tests include the specialty knowledge tests for each Air Force career field, the promotion fitness exam, and the supervisory exam.
Last year Noncommissioned Officers in the supply career field got a hands-on look at the promotion question process.
They were TSgt. Adam Billingsley, Scott AFB, Ill., MSgt. Terry Karshis, Lackland AFB, Tex., TSgt. David Martin, Dyess AFB, Tex., and MSgt. Carlton Moore, Gunter Annex at Maxwell AFB, Ala.
“I’ll never look at a test the same way again because of the process we’ve gone through here,” Martin said. “It was an eye-opening experience.”
“I thought we would sit down and brainstorm a little bit and that would pretty much be it,” Billingsley said. “I was surprised by the amount of work that goes into producing a test.”
It is a process that ensures the best people move through the enlisted ranks in the Air Force, according to Lt. Col. Gene Henry, AFOMS commander. “The system is always fresh, as tests are revised annually,” he said.
AFOMS, created in 1970, collects information from the field, based on job surveys and task analysis reports that reflect the work each career field performs. It then solicits the help of Senior Noncommissioned Officers and SNCO-selects from the field who use the survey information and study references to develop each test.
Once the subject matter expert team drafts questions, the team’s test psychologist, a quality control psychologist, and a test management psychologist review the new questions, plus any carried over from the previous bank of test questions before the items are accepted. Everyone must agree to give a question the green light.
The process for the subject matter experts takes 32 days.
“Having taken the test a few times, I came away telling myself I had no idea where ‘they’ came up with this question or that question,” Billingsley said. “Now, I guess we’ll be looked at that same way, but I can honestly say they’re all valid questions.”
The 30th Communications Squadron and 30th Operations Support Squadron put the only military-maintained off-the-shelf air traffic radar system–the Galaxy 2000 Tower Display–online at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., last fall.
The two 30th Space Wing units expect the new radar to save the base more than $300,000 in manpower and repair costs each year.
One big improvement over the old GPN-12 radar system is that maintainers can monitor, troubleshoot, and train from a remote site without causing downtime on the primary Galaxy system, said MSgt. Richard Chavez-Hatton, 30th CS NCO in charge of ground radar systems.
For operators of the new radar–air traffic controllers–the new system has pluses as well.
“We now have a flat-screen color monitor that can receive multiple radar feeds at one time,” said MSgt. Richard Czap, 30th OSS chief controller. The older GPN-12 used one radar and one display.
With the new system, operators use multiple feeds to get information from separate radar sites along the central coast that enable them to cover an area up to 920 miles, compared to about 70 miles for the older system.
The Galaxy also has the capability to use next generation weather radar information, a benefit in providing real-time adverse weather advisories to pilots, Czap said.
The Department of Defense joined much of the private sector last fall when it announced its telework, or telecommuting, policy. It will allow employees to work from an approved alternative worksite, which may be a home office or telecenter.
Congress passed a law in 2000 stipulating that all federal agencies allow 25 percent of eligible employees to telecommute by the end of 2001. There’s an additional goal of increasing that percentage by 25 percent in each of the next three fiscal years.
The policy promotes regular telework at least one day every two weeks for eligible DOD employees, although it also provides for ad hoc telework on an occasional basis. Federal guidelines allow for agencies to provide teleworking employees with computers and other equipment to carry out their required tasks, including technical support from the agency.
Officials stated that teleworking is not limited to civilian employees. DOD is working on a directive to provide guidance for telework programs for all DOD personnel–including active duty and reservists.
The current policy and guide are available on the Web through the Interagency Telework/Telecommuting Site at http://www.telework.gov.
|AFRC Volunteers Help Establish Air Bridge
Air refueling aircrews deployed to the Pacific region form an “air bridge” from the West Coast to all points in Southwest and Southeast Asia and back again that enables other aircrews in fighter, bomber, and airlift aircraft to reach their destinations.
Air Force Reserve Command KC-135 Stratotanker crews from McConnell AFB, Kan., and Tinker AFB, Okla., spent more than five weeks in September and October supporting that air bridge.
Within 24 hours after getting that first call for support, the 507th Air Refueling Wing from Tinker had aircraft and volunteers dispatched to a forward location. The group included an AFRC crew from McConnell’s 931st Air Refueling Group.
“Our response was fantastic,” said Col. Tim Wrighton, 507th commander. He added that the quick response was possible because of support from the employers of the Reservists. “We received a very short notification, and we were still able to get where we needed to be because of their understanding and encouragement.”
On one mission the 931st ARG crew transferred about 120,000 pounds of fuel to a C-5 crossing the Pacific.
The AFRC tanker pilot, Maj. Matt Archer, said, “It absolutely feels good to be here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.” Archer is a 21-year veteran with more than 3,500 flying hours.
His copilot, Maj. John Stansfield, said he spent the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks flying refueling missions over the East Coast.
“It felt really good to be able to be there at a time when everyone was looking for ways to help,” the 14-year veteran and former Navy helicopter pilot said. Since transferring to the Air Force, Stansfield has logged more than 200 flying hours in KC-135s.
Both pilots are Desert Storm veterans and have supported operations throughout Southwest Asia, but they said Enduring Freedom missions are different.
Because of the terrorist attacks in America, Archer said, “Flying these missions in support of such an operation is much more rewarding than what I’ve ever done in the past.”
Less than 30 minutes into the flight, A1C Chris Norris, the 931st crew’s 20-year-old boom operator, stretched flat on his stomach to get ready for the C-5. The young boomer, with just a year in the position, guided the boom to its target on the first try.
The transfer of 120,000 pounds of fuel takes about 30 minutes.
“The job I do–air refueling–is just awesome,” said Norris. “Flying missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom makes me want to do my job even better because it actually counts for something that personally touched every American.”
Wrighton said these crews were not part of the reserve call-up. “We asked for, and got, volunteers so we could support the refueling mission while allowing other units the time to activate and assume the vital mission.”
|Wolfowitz: World Will Forget Taliban
As al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban militia in the Afghan cities of Kunduz and Kandahar continued to battle opposition forces, a Taliban spokesman gave a press conference Nov. 21 near Kandahar. He proclaimed that Americans should forget about Sept. 11 and that despite rumors, the Taliban is not crumbling.
To that, DOD’s No. 2 civilian responded, “I can assure them we will not forget about Sept. 11. We are moving on, and I think before long, the world will forget about the Taliban.”
Although anti-Taliban forces had gained control of 75 percent of Afghanistan, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing that work in Afghanistan continues. He urged patience.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done in Afghanistan and a lot of work beyond Afghanistan.”
He added, “It’s worth emphasizing that this whole operation is clearly one that is bringing great relief to the people of Afghanistan who seem to be everywhere greeting the removal of the Taliban as an act of liberation.”
Coalition air strikes and ground force support continue, but Wolfowitz pointed out that the mission is also now moving more toward one of preparing for significant humanitarian aid. Beyond the sustained airdrop of food, he said barges are flowing. And, he noted, “We’ve been joined by advance parties from France and from Jordan, with the ultimate goal, among other things, of setting up a field hospital in Mazar [-e Sharif].”
When asked about the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, he said, “This is a man on the run.” He emphasized, though, “There’s a danger in the fascination with bin Laden. We might forget that there is a whole network outside of Afghanistan that we have to get rid of. It’s more than just bin Laden.”
“At the same time that we’re hunting him, we’re hunting down that whole network and not just in Afghanistan but in the 59 other countries where they’ve burrowed in,” stated Wolfowitz.
He said that even after completely decapitating al Qaeda in Afghanistan, “we would still be concerned about their networks elsewhere.”
On the other hand, he harbored no such reservations about the Taliban. “I think in the case of the Taliban, it’s quite different. I think the more one can make an example of the leaders, the more the followers will desert, and that’s a process that seems to be taking place as we speak.”
|Pentagon Assigns Responsibilties for Homeland Defense
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said that certain US military commanders are being provided additional authorities to defend the United States homeland, its states, territories, trusts, and commonwealths.
Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White, who was named DOD’s executive agent for Homeland Defense on Oct. 2, will coordinate the department’s efforts with the White House’s Office of Homeland Security.
In addition, the Commander in Chief of US Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., was placed in charge of the land and maritime defense of the continental United States, as well as providing military assistance to civil authorities.
The CINC for North American Aerospace Defense Command, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., was given charge of aerospace defense. At the same time, the NORAD CINC in his other role as CINC of US Space Command was directed to provide support in computer network operations.
The CINC for US Pacific Command, at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, and the CINC for US Southern Command, Miami, were given responsibility for their respective geographic areas.
A DOD statement said these assignments will allow “additional detailed planning and training to occur that will increase our military’s ability to respond more effectively and quickly to requests from civil authorities.”
|Airmen Among Troops on the Ground
Despite daily press briefings at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other officials have provided only sketchy information about what US Special Forces on the ground in Afghanistan have been doing.
That has changed somewhat with the near total takeover of Afghanistan by anti-Taliban forces.
Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, JCS head, told reporters Nov. 13 that Special Forces on the ground deserved much of the credit for recent opposition victories.
“At present a number of American Special Forces teams are working with the opposition,” Rumsfeld said. “Every day the targeting and effectiveness has improved and that has clearly played a critical role.”
Myers added, “We can pass kudos to our Special Forces liaison teams [for improving targeting].”
A day later, more information surfaced in remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz at the Fletcher Conference in Washington.
“We have seen that in recent weeks that success has come not just in the remarkable ability to fly bombers from a base in Missouri halfway around the world to strike targets with great precision,” said Wolfowitz. “Success also comes from putting some extraordinarily brave men on the ground so they can direct that airpower and make it truly effective.”
He then read some excerpts from dispatches from one of those men on the ground. One dispatch, dated Nov. 10, described conditions on the way into Mazar-e Sharif: “I have personally witnessed heroism under fire by two US noncommissioned officers, one Army, one Air Force, when we came under direct artillery fire last night. When I ordered them to call close air support, they did so immediately without even flinching, even though they were under fire. As you know, a US element was nearly overrun four days ago and continued to call close air support and ensured the mujahideen forces did not suffer a defeat. These two examples are typical of the performance of your soldiers and airmen. Truly uncommon valor has been a common virtue.”
|Maintainers Make HDR Drops Possible
USAF C-17s from Charleston AFB, S.C., have been the front line in the distribution of Humanitarian Daily Rations to Afghanistan, but it’s the maintenance troops that ensure the cargo aircraft can do their job.
Charleston maintainers, who specialize in technical jobs ranging from electronics to hydraulics and refrigeration, have been doing their jobs day and night in all types of weather at their deployment location at Ramstein AB, Germany.
What’s more, they have been doing that job with almost 20 fewer specialists than an operation like Enduring Freedom should command.
At Ramstein, a team of 30-plus people with job skills in maintenance, aircraft generation equipment, and supply typically prepare five C-17 aircraft a day for the airdrop missions. The maintainers said this type of operation would normally have more than 50 maintenance troops to get that many C-17s ready for the next mission after they’ve returned from a previous one.
“We do it all–the maintenance, the scheduling of jets, and the coordination,” said MSgt. John Kiegel, production superintendent from Charleston.
SSgt. Donald Mykamp, a C-17 crew chief, said their normal turnaround time is between four to six hours. “But, when the planes are [late] because of the heavy fog here at Ramstein, that gives us maybe two or three hours to get them ready for the next mission.”
“Sometimes, we’re doing the maintenance and the planes are being loaded for the next mission,” Mykamp added. “It makes it kind of hard. The loadmaster is rushing, and we’re rushing, but somehow we still make it happen.”
The maintainers have learned to adapt to long hours and, as the situation requires, performing tasks typically not associated with their job specialty back at Charleston.
“Some of us are used to the deployments and long working hours,” Mykamp said. “For others, it’s their first deployment, and it will take time.”
“We also have people here who aren’t used to working [outside] of their [specialties], but they’re jumping in; they’re learning,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘Show me how to do this,’ and it’s working out pretty good.”
SrA. Pedro Vazquez, a communication navigation systems technician, said that despite the hard work and long hours, he is glad to be supporting the humanitarian operation.
“I don’t really know if [the Afghans] appreciate what we’re doing,” he said, “but I know I’m doing my best to help them.”
Relocation of Air Force Memorial Likely
The planned Air Force Memorial will most likely relocate to a new site, on a hill overlooking the Pentagon, with a panoramic view of Washington, D.C., it was disclosed in late November.
Assuming Congressional approval of language pending in the defense authorization bill, a parcel of federal land-now occupied by the Navy Annex-would be transferred to Arlington National Cemetery. The Department of Defense would then make four acres of that land available for the Air Force Memorial.
The relocation would end a long-running controversy about the previous site for the memorial, some two miles farther up the Potomac River on Arlington Ridge. Neighborhood groups and Marine Corps veterans took strong objection to that location, wanting nothing else ever to be built on Arlington Ridge, where the Iwo Jima Memorial now occupies a prominent plot.
Two attempts to block the Air Force Memorial were overturned in federal court, where the project was found to have carefully followed the complex review and approval process mandated by Congress and to have met all of the requirements of four different government oversight agencies.
Even so, the repeated challenges and delays had slowed the project down. Relocation had been discussed on and off for the past year. Last year, several members of Congress moved to make an attractive alternative location available. This year the legislation was revised and the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Commandant of the Marine Corps expressed their approval, and the Air Force Memorial Foundation said it was open to considering such a move.
Retired Maj. Gen. Ed Grillo, president of the foundation, said four considerations were critical in the legislation.
“First,” he said, “we need to have adequate time to do a proper environmental assessment of the property and ensure that we will not face any stumbling blocks downstream. Second, we need adequate acreage at the promontory point on the Navy Annex to construct the memorial. Third, our costs incurred in connection with the Arlington Ridge site must be absorbed in the new site’s preparation costs. And, fourth, if any significant problems surface at the Navy Annex site, we need to be able to return to Arlington Ridge and continue with the approval process.”
Ross Perot Jr., the foundation chairman, said a review of the design for the memorial would also be necessary. Perot also said he was asked by retired Gen. Michael E. Ryan, the previous Air Force Chief of Staff, and Gen. John P. Jumper, the present Chief, to consider the Navy Annex property as an alternate site.
“This is a team effort, and we are going to do what it takes to best support 134,000 donors, those who have served in the Air Force and its predecessor organizations, the active Air Force, and our corporate partners.”
Perot went on to add: “This site is not new to us. It was looked at very early in the site review process but discounted because it was not going to be available for a number of years. The site has a great panoramic view of Washington and will be highly visible when viewed by the public.”
One Sure Thing: Adapting to Surprise Is Key
The solution to the problem of surprise is not just better intelligence, said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
In fact, he said the US must learn “not to depend too much on intelligence” and “not to assume that other people operate on assumptions that mirror our own about what is impossible, what is irrational, or both.”
There is one sure thing, he said, “adapting to surprise–adapting quickly and effectively–must be a central element of defense planning.”
Wolfowitz, who was speaking Nov. 14 at the Fletcher Conference in Washington, D.C., admitted that adapting to surprise is hard to do. “We were spoiled by the seeming certainties of the Cold War,” he said. “We knew the threat, we planned for it, we matched it.”
Today is different. The “revolution in threats calls for a revolution in how we think about defense.”
He explained that one outcome of the months-long debate surrounding the Quadrennial Defense Review was an agreement that to deal with surprise and uncertainty, “we needed to shift our planning from the ‘threat-based’ model that has guided thinking in the past to a ‘capabilities-based’ model for the future.”
Capabilities-based planning requires taking account of an adversary’s existing and potential capabilities and assessing them against one’s own. That leads to thinking about “asymmetric threats,” he added.
He said asymmetric threats refer “to the tactics and weapons our adversaries will choose to circumvent our well-known and enormous military strengths and attack us where we are vulnerable.” Among those threats, said Wolfowitz, are “forms of warfare that most civilized nations long ago renounced: chemical and biological weapons and the intentional killing of civilians through terrorism.”
The US must exploit its own asymmetric advantages–capabilities such as precision strike, intelligence, and undersea warfare.
It is also clear, he said, in hindsight that the US should have been investing heavily over the past several years in homeland defense, projecting power in anti-access environments, and denying our enemies sanctuary with long-range precision strike. However, he said that DOD also cannot neglect cyber-warfare defense, enhanced joint operations, and space capabilities.
The first three capabilities, he said, are being applied to the war against terrorism today. The last three must have attention to avoid “creating the conditions for the Pearl Harbor of the next decade.”
The budget DOD submitted last July in no way matches where the military is today. In fact, Wolfowitz admitted that no one could have predicted DOD “would soon need billions of dollars to conduct combat operations in Central Asia and moreover do so while a large fraction of our surveillance assets and combat air patrol aircraft were engaged over the United States.”
“Sept. 11th ought to give this country a new perspective on the issue of what is affordable,” he added. “The capabilities that look so expensive in peace seem relatively cheap when you’re confronted with the challenges we face today.”
|Public Supports Military Tribunal
Nearly 60 percent of Americans approve of President Bush’s plan to try foreign terrorists who wage war against the United States in military tribunals. So finds a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, conducted Nov. 27.
President Bush issued an order Nov. 13 that gives him the option to try foreign terrorists “for violations of the laws of war and other applicable laws by military tribunal.”
Civil libertarians as well as some Congressmen in both parties have criticized the President’s order. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for instance, said the order “sends a terrible message to the world that, when confronted with a serious challenge, we lack confidence in the very institutions we are fighting for.”
Bush told a conference of US attorneys Nov. 29 that terrorists who plan or commit mass murder are more than criminal suspects. “We’re an open society, but we’re at war. … We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself.”
Ramstein Crews Earn Mackay Trophy
In mid-November, the National Aeronautic Association announced award of the 2000 Mackay Trophy to the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical crew and the 75th Airlift Squadron flight crew, both from Ramstein AB, Germany.
The two crews evacuated the 28 sailors injured in the terrorist attack on USS Cole in October 2000.
Award recipients were: Lt. Col. Kirk Nailling; Majs. Lola Casby, Kathryn Drake, and Thomas Jenkins; Capts. Karey Dufour, Donna Fournier, Karin Petersen, and Natalie Sykes; and SSgts. Brad Atherton, Anna Duffner, Ed Franceschina, Juan Garza, Chad Shusko, Heather Robinson, and Alan Woodridge.
At a Pentagon ceremony hosted by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, flight nurse Dufour commented, “We were just doing our jobs. This is what we train for and do every day.”
“The true heroes in this scenario were the shipmates of the USS Cole, not us,” she added. “The sailors were grateful for the support they got from the people in Yemen, but they wanted to get out of there. It was an absolute honor and a privilege to care for them.”
The NAA presents the Mackay Trophy annually to the Air Force person, crew, or organization that made the most meritorious flight of the year. This is the first time an aeromedical evacuation crew has received the award.
Space Industry Veteran To Be Undersecretary
The Senate confirmed Peter B. Teets as the next undersecretary of the Air Force on Dec. 8.
Teets retired in 1999 as the president and chief operating officer for Lockheed Martin. He has an extensive background in defense programs and space systems, beginning in 1963 with the Titan III booster. He also served as president of Martin Marietta Space Group prior to its merger with Lockheed in 1995.
A space background would definitely provide a solid base since the new undersecretary is destined to lead DOD space acquisition efforts as a result of the reorganization recommended by the Space Commission.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who chaired the space commission prior to being nominated for his post as head of DOD, named the Air Force as executive agent for space in May last year.
The new Air Force undersecretary would also serve as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
When asked at his confirmation hearing in November what he considered were the most serious problems for the USAF undersecretary, he replied: “[They] include developing an integrated vision and plan for national security space, cultural integration of organizational elements, and span of control.”
Academy Honors Risner
On Nov. 16, the US Air Force Academy paid tribute to retired Brig. Gen. Robinson Risner, a man who flew in three wars and managed to survive more than seven years as a Prisoner of War, by placing a permanent statue of him in the Air Garden.
He is most known as a hero for his leadership and courage over the long years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War. Risner was also a jet ace in Korea with eight confirmed victories.
At the ceremony unveiling the nine-foot statue, Risner said, “I’m a bit embarrassed to have been chosen for the statue here that represents all POWs. It still leaves me in awe.”
- Three Texas AETC bases–Lackland, Laughlin, and Randolph–were placed on the Central Texas Recycling Association’s top 10 list of best recycling programs for Fiscal 2001.
- Air Force officials have determined that fasteners that came loose in the engine of an F-16D led to its crash July 23 about 57 miles southwest of Luke AFB, Ariz. Damage caused by two inner air-seal retaining fasteners progressed to the driveshaft and resulted in a titanium fire, at which point, the engine seized. The pilot ejected safely.
- Three USAF Test Pilot School graduates were inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame Nov. 10. They were retired Navy Capt. Robert L. Crippen, retired ANG Maj. Gen. Joe H. Engle, and retired Vice Adm. Richard H. Truly. A fourth inductee, retired Navy Capt. Frederick H. Hauck, was a graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School.
- MaryBeth Bash, wife of Col. Brooks Bash from Andrews AFB, Md., was named the National Volunteer Coach of the Year by the National Alliance For Youth Sports. She was selected from about 150,000 volunteer coaches nationwide.
- The US Air Force Academy retained the Commander in Chief Trophy by defeating Army 34-24 in their Nov. 3 football game.
- Three child-care providers at USAF facilities were named top providers in the nation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children on Nov. 1. They were Andrea Crandall, RAF Croughton, UK, Jackie Engram, Robins AFB, Ga., and Wanchalee Putnam, USAFA, Colo.
- USAF selected 635 out of 2,879 individuals eligible for promotion to chief master sergeant-a selection rate of more than 22 percent, which was an eight point increase from the previous year and the highest rate of chief master sergeant selects since 1986.
- Fifteen service members and military spouses stationed in the US and Europe were named winners of the National Military Family Association’s 2001 Very Important Patriot Program, which recognizes exceptional volunteer service to the military and neighboring communities. The three USAF winners with first-place honors were TSgt. William Harrington, Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Kitty King, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; and TSgt. Brian Williams, Altus AFB, Okla. Other USAF winners were Capt. Orlando J. Dona, Eielson AFB, Alaska; AFRC Maj. George Friedman, Travis AFB, Calif.; Capt. Jason Haynes of RAF Mildenhall, UK; Doris Lankford, Holloman AFB, N.M.; and SSgt. Brian Stolpe, Bad Aibling Station, Germany.
- USAF winners of the 2001 Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards, recognizing annually the most significant weapon system and equipment maintenance achievements within DOD, were the 62nd and 446th Aircraft Generation Squadrons, McChord AFB, Wash., in the medium category, and 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, S.C., large category.
- Edwards AFB, Calif., has a new test capability, the Air Traffic Control Communications Test facility and Avionics System Test. The system evaluates military aircraft use of Global Air Traffic Management data links. Officials said the system will be fully operational in December 2002, when it can be used to send corrupt data in simulated information warfare attacks on the KC-135 avionics suite.
- USAF has hired Chauncey Group Intl. to evaluate the enlisted testing program, used as part of the Weighted Airman Promotion System, for quality and fairness. The completed review is due in late fall 2002.
- Air Force Materiel Command selected Northrop Grumman to develop and produce the laser-based Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system designed to protect large military aircraft from sophisticated heat-seeking missiles. The LAIRCM system is destined for 20 USAF C-130 and C-17 aircraft.
- The 730th Air Mobility Squadron, Yokota AB, Japan, reached a fourth consecutive year without any on- or off-duty reportable mishaps. Last year the unit handled 7,000 aircraft and processed more than 37,000 tons of cargo and 90,000 passengers.
- The Range Management Office at Nellis AFB, Nev., became the 98th Range Wing on Nov. 5. The first commander is Col. Wilhelm Percival. The new wing manages the 2.9-million-acre Nevada Test and Training Range and the Leach Lake Tactics Range near Barstow, Calif.
- Goodrich announced in November that it will supply the landing gear and lead the landing system integration effort for the Joint Strike Fighter and estimates the value of this effort at nearly $5 billion.
- USAF awarded a $2.7 billion system development and demonstration contract for the Extremely High Frequency satellite program to a Lockheed Martin-TRW team. The EHF is the follow-on to the Milstar communications satellite.
- Air Mobility Command honored three Andrews AFB, Md., units for flying safety milestones. The 1st Airlift Squadron has not had a Class A mishap in more than 10 years. The 99th AS has never had a mishap in its 14-year history. The Presidential Airlift Group has not had a mishap in its 12-year history.
- The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., awarded a $49 million contract to Northrop Grumman to provide technical support for a messaging system–Communications Support Processor for the Millennium–used by the Intelligence Community.
- On Nov. 8 the Senate approved Marvin Sambur as assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and Mary Walker as Air Force general counsel.
- Kaiser Electronics, acquired by Rockwell Collins last year, delivered its first head up display camera for the F-15E to Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia in early November. The company will produce 163 of the new cameras, which replace the monochrome camera currently used.
- Two USAF members were selected for the US National Skeleton Team. Maj. Brady Canfield, Hill AFB, Utah, finished third overall and SrA. Trevor Christie, Utah ANG, finished sixth. The skeleton, a headfirst version of luge, will be a sport in the Winter Olympics.
- The board of supervisors for Spaceport Florida Authority, located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., voted to change the name to Florida Space Authority.
- The National Aeronautic Association awarded the 2000 Collier Trophy to the Global Hawk team-Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Raytheon, L-3 Communications, USAF, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-for “designing, building, testing, and operating Global Hawk, the first fully autonomous, operationally demonstrated, and most capable surveillance and reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in the world.”
- The first class of student pilots to train exclusively in the new T-6A Texan II began training at Moody AFB, Ga., in mid-November. The T-6A replaces USAF’s T-37 and the Navy’s T-34C.