Two groups that claim to represent service personnel disciplined for refusing anthrax vaccine shots asked President George W. Bush to grant the personnel amnesty.
The organizations-Citizen Soldier and No Abuse-support the position that the shots can cause health problems and have pushed many persons with unblemished records to leave the military.
“President Lincoln gave amnesty to soldiers who fled under fire. It should be no problem for this Administration to grant compassionate amnesty for people whose health is under fire,” said retired Air Force Reserve Col. Redmond Handy, the president of No Abuse, at a Feb. 12 news conference in Washington.
The Pentagon says that, while some people may experience minor adverse effects during the multishot vaccination sequence, the overall anthrax program remains a safe one.
A half-million military personnel have already received at least one shot. Estimates of the number of shot “refuseniks” are far from authoritative. DOD claims that as of August last year only about 441 have actually refused, and that includes 129 for the Air Force. Others believe the number is much higher.
A General Accounting Office study last year that focused on Guard and Reserve aircrew members found that 25 percent of 828 respondents said the anthrax shots were one of the main reasons they quit or changed to nonflying jobs.
Russian military forces on Feb. 16 carried out two test launches of ballistic missiles. Moscow later described the events as proof that Russia would be able to penetrate and defeat any US missile defense system.
An ICBM was fired from a facility in northwestern Russia, and a sea-based missile was fired from a nuclear submarine underwater in the Barents Sea.
Gen. Leonid G. Ivashov, chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s international cooperation department, warned that if the US builds a National Missile Defense, “we shall find an adequate reply.”
Russia has long opposed Washington’s plans for NMD, claiming it would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty.
With big budget increases now appearing less and less likely-at least in the near term-the problem of finding funds for recapitalization is looming ever larger for the Air Force, said Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan on Feb. 8.
Under current long-range defense acquisition plans, the service is buying only about 100 aircraft per year. Of those, 50 are trainers or not full-up operational, said Ryan at an Alexandria, Va., seminar.
Lack of money for new airplanes means that the average age of the Air Force fleet will near 30 years. Older aircraft become more difficult to maintain.
“The older they get, both from a technology standpoint and from a rust standpoint, the cost of keeping that fleet is going up,” said Ryan. “Over the past five years, the cost of operating the fleet at a fixed level of flying has gone up 40 percent.”
More difficult maintenance means lower readiness rates.
“Our readiness started falling in 1997, and it has fallen by about 30 percent since that time,” said Ryan. “We have been able to flatten that out, and we are holding on at about 65 percent in the top two categories, where we want to get to 92 percent,” said Ryan.
The F-22 Raptor has completed all Congressionally mandated flight tests required for approval of low-rate production, but it has been trapped in limbo by President Bush’s desire to put off all major Pentagon funding decisions until his national security team can complete its top to bottom military review.
“If you’re talking about making a decision on a major acquisition program, … you must complete your vision of where [you’re] going in the early 21st century before you make decisions on the tools that [you] will buy to get you there,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley told reporters Feb. 6.
The F-22 made the long-awaited jump over its final milestone Feb. 5, when Raptor 4006 made a first flight from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Ga. “I had every confidence today’s flight would be successful,” Brig. Gen. Jay Jabour, F-22 system program director, said Feb. 5. “A carbon copy of Raptor 4004, it posed no technical challenges, but it is great to have this achievement behind us.”
USAF’s 510th Fighter Squadron is training with the Italian air force’s 83rd Combat Search and Rescue Squadron in Rimini, Italy, to prepare for a pioneering role in rescue operations.
The 510th is one of three F-16 units that have recently had CSAR added to their list of missions. The addition reflects the fact that there are not enough A-10s, the primary CSAR aircraft, to fill out all Aerospace Expeditionary Forces.
Other fighter squadrons adding the role are the 555th, also at Aviano, and the 18th from Eielson AFB, Alaska. The 510th will be the first to officially begin the CSAR mission when it deploys to Operation Northern Watch in Turkey in June.
“It’s a very important and dynamic mission, and we’re ready to step up to it,” said Lt. Col. Steve Schrader, 510th FS commander.
So far the US unit has conducted two exercises with the Italians. In a four-day February maneuver, eight F-16 pilots and 20 Italian aircrew members and pararescuemen flew day and night sorties to locate survivors and coordinate pickup.
The complexity of the exercise represented a step up from the 510th’s previous training.
“We [had] a lot more simulated threats on the ground and a lot more sense of urgency to pick up the survivor, so that we’re working within some time constraints,” said Maj. Mark Moore, 510th operations officer and exercise coordinator.
The Air Force’s California bases have not been hampered by the state’s electricity crisis-so far.
Power shortages have triggered rolling blackouts in many northern California communities, but conservation measures and the presence of backup generators have kept the lights on in the area’s three Air Force installations: Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville; McClellan in Sacramento; and Travis in Fairfield.
“Some of the halls around here are a little dimmer because we’re turning off some of the lights, and we’re trying to conserve energy where possible,” said SSgt. Katherine Garcia, a spokesperson for Beale’s 9th Reconnaissance Wing.
Beale reduced its electricity consumption by about 15 percent, mostly through such traditional means as turning down thermostats, turning off lights, and unplugging unneeded appliances. That 15 percent saving translates into roughly 2.6 megawatts, enough to power 2,500 homes.
Beale’s fellow bases show similar gains. Their biggest worry: an extended blackout that would force heavy use of backup power systems.
“You can only run the backup generators so many hours per year and continue to rely on them as your fail-safe emergency power source,” said John Schopf, Travis’s deputy civil engineer.
Natural gas supplies are also a concern. A sudden spike in demand has sent prices soaring and could portend a coming shortage.
The Air Force’s new high-tech recruitment vehicle made its debut at the Daytona 500 in Florida Feb. 17-18.
Nicknamed “ROVer,” the recreational vehicle carries a more portable version of the “The US Air Force Experience” road show that now travels to high schools, special events, and malls across the country.
Four ROVers will travel about the country this year in an effort to boost service recruiting. Exterior video screens show visitors highlights of job skills and Air Force technology.
Inside are three recruiters and a public affairs NCO to answer questions, take down names, and hand out embossed metal “dog tags” with the new Air Force logo to each visitor.
“We’ve found that one of the best ways to reconnect with the American public and showcase career opportunities is by reaching out and going to the public directly-especially in high traffic areas like high schools and shopping malls,” said Brig. Gen. Duane W. Deal, Air Force Recruiting Service commander.
Friendly forces need to be able to use English if they want to fly and fight alongside the US Air Force, asserts the Chief of Staff, Gen. Michael Ryan.
What is more, they must have a command-and-control system that is compatible with US equipment, or they will wind up with some kind of peripheral duty, said Ryan at a February Air Force conference on unified aerospace power.
“That’s simply the way it is,” he said, adding that the Air Force is not going to stop its progress to wait for others to catch up.
The compatibility issue has become increasingly important as NATO has expanded and new partners show up for such efforts as Operation Allied Force.
The Bush Administration’s comprehensive study of the US military includes a review of the state of the US nuclear arsenal and seeks to determine what kind of unilateral warhead reductions might accompany a move toward reliance on missile defenses.
The review, carried out under the terms of White House policy directives, is intended to produce a coherent nuclear strategy that addresses defensive and offensive aspects of the issue in parallel.
The defense establishment has not conducted such a sweeping reassessment since the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review performed by the Clinton Administration.
The current US strategic nuclear arsenal contains around 7,500 warheads. Unilateral cuts could drop that below the 2,500-warhead level set in 1997 by Russia and the US as a goal for START III talks.
Such cuts could make a missile defense deal more palatable for Russia. Russian leaders have long sought deep nuclear reductions, at least partly because their cash-strapped nation can no longer afford to support its existing atomic infrastructure.
The 339th Flight Test Squadron at Robins AFB, Ga., has become one of the first Reserve units to take over aircraft test support and functional check flight duties for Air Force Materiel Command.
In late 1999 the Air Force said it would establish seven Air Force Reserve Command units to conduct AFMC flight-test support and functional check flights, once purely an active force responsibility.
The switch means that the 339th now gets to have a major impact on Air Force fighting forces. The 339th’s work involves C-5, C-130, and C-141 airlifters and F-15 fighters that come to Warner Robins Air Logistics Center for programmed depot maintenance or other repair work.
The mission: Make sure an airplane is truly airworthy when it is ready to leave.
Preflight inspection by 339th engineers can take five hours. During test flights, crews run through a “test card” that lists items which must work before airplanes can be certified safe.
Pilots and crew must be well-qualified before joining the 339th “Rogues,” and once in, they face three to five months of additional training before they are fully up to speed.
The other six AFRC flight-test units are expected to be set up before the end of Fiscal 2002 at Edwards AFB, Calif.; Hill AFB, Utah; Kelly AFB, Tex.; Randolph AFB, Tex.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; and a contractor site at Mesa, Ariz.
Team SBL-IFX on Jan. 25 announced they had successfully tested the Alpha high-energy laser with the beam director telescope and beam alignment and correction system intended for use on the anti-missile Space Based Laser.
The point: Can the beam director project and hold the focus of the laser across space to enable the laser to hit its target-a ballistic missile in boost phase
“The test was a solid success,” said Col. Neil McCasland, director of the Air Force’s SBL-IFX program office.
Team SBL-IFX, for Space Based Laser Integrated Flight Experiment, is a joint venture by Lockheed Martin, TRW, and Boeing to develop the technologies that will lead to development of the SBL-IFX satellite that is currently set for launch in 2012.
The January experiment was carried out in TRW’s California vacuum chamber that simulates the space environment.
Plans call for USAF to test the satellite’s defensive capability against a live, boosting target in 2013.
DOD’s Special Needs Network, a Web site for military families with handicapped members or others with special medical or educational needs, went online Jan. 24.
The site (mfrc.calib.com/snn) is intended to link families to care coordinators, educational professionals, and other special-needs resources located near military installations. Menu options include assignment coordination and federal and state aid programs. DOD itself has no formal special needs program, but the military takes such needs into account in its regular personnel process, said the Web site’s founder, Rebecca Posante, program analyst at DOD’s Office of Educational Opportunity.
“For example, if a service member going overseas has a wife who’s in a wheelchair, we would try to find a place where facilities are wheelchair-accessible,” she said.
After a devastating earthquake hit western India on Jan. 26, US officials moved quickly to dispatch USAF aircraft carrying aid equipment and supplies.
A six-person communications, logistics, and medical support team from US Pacific Command flew in first to assess needs and potential areas of DOD support. It was followed Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 by two C-5 transports loaded with a two-and-a-half-ton truck, two forklifts, two 400-gallon water trailers, 10,000 blankets, 1,500 sleeping bags, and 92 large tents.
The C-5s landed in Guam and off-loaded their cargo to smaller airlifters that continued on to Ahmadabad in the heart of the disaster zone.
Leaving the service? The Pentagon has a Web site just for you. On Jan. 26, officials announced the launch of the DOD Transportal, located at http://www.dodtransportal.org.
Inside one finds a wealth of job assistance advice and other information intended to ease the transition to civilian life.
Features include an overview of the DOD Transition Assistance Program, locations and phone numbers of transition assistance offices worldwide, and minicourses on such things as creating a resume and how to find corporate recruiting sites.
The pilot who crashed a C-130 at Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, in December 1999, killing three persons, was offered nonjudicial punishment proceedings by 21st Air Force commander Maj. Gen. George N. Williams on Feb. 16.
Under such Article 15 proceedings, the pilot, Capt. Darron A. Haughn, is entitled to present his side of the story to Williams.
Punishments could include a reprimand, forfeiture of half-pay for up to two months, 30 days’ arrest in quarters, 60 days’ restriction, or a combination of any of these options.
The decision was made after a review by Williams of the recommendations of Brig. Gen. Paul J. Fletcher, the 314th Airlift Wing commander at Little Rock AFB, Ark., as well as the recommendations of a military judge who conducted a pretrial investigative hearing and the accident investigation board report, said Air Mobility Command spokesman Capt. Jeff Glenn.
On Feb. 1, Air Intelligence Agency became part of Air Combat Command.
AIA, which is headquartered at Kelly AFB, Tex., ceased to be a field operating agency of the Air Force and became a primary subordinate unit at ACC. AIA’s two wings, the 67th Information Operations Wing at Kelly and the 70th Intelligence Wing, Ft. Meade, Md., were realigned under ACC’s 8th Air Force. AIA’s 690th Information Operations Group also joined the “Mighty Eighth.”
“This is a natural evolution,” said Gen. John P. Jumper, ACC commander. “It’s an idea whose time has come. This integrates our information warfare skills and talents into the normal tactical and operational level of war just as we do fighters, bombers, and others.”
Maj. Gen. Richard W. Davis, the national security space architect, died suddenly Feb. 27 on his way to a meeting at the Pentagon. The official cause of death for the 53-year-old was cardiac arrest.
Davis, who entered the Air Force in 1970, commanded USAF’s Wright and Phillips laboratories. He also was a founding member of the Strategic Defense Initiaitve.
Lawmakers Urge Rumsfeld To Proceed With F-22
A block of 59 members of Congress, saying they are worried that “further delay will effectively kill the Air Force’s No. 1 modernization program,” urged Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to move the F-22 into production as quickly as possible.
In a March 2 letter to Rumsfeld, the Congressmen noted that bridge funding for the fighter-which kept the F-22 program going while the new Administration decided how it wanted to proceed-was set to expire March 31. If the program died from inaction, said the lawmakers, “We may forfeit something that should never be taken for granted and one of the greatest advantages our military currently holds-control of the air.”
Among those signing the letter were Reps. Floyd Spence (R-S.C.), Dick Armey (R-Tex.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.), Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), and Sam Johnson (R-Tex.).
They reminded Rumsfeld that he himself and other former Pentagon leaders had signed an April 1998 letter urging Defense Secretary William Cohen to protect the F-22. The 1998 signatories argued that the Raptor “must be funded” and said, “It is essential that this program succeed.”
Rumsfeld was urged not to defer the decision to move forward with the low-rate production of the F-22.
“The F-22 is the only program that will ensure total dominance of the skies for US combat forces well into the middle of this century, and it is ready to move into Low-Rate Initial Production,” the Congressmen said.
The group noted that the F-15 “has served us well but is rapidly aging” and will be outperformed by foreign fighters now being developed. New surface-to-air missiles “proliferating among potential foes of the United States” will also threaten the F-15, they said.
The Joint Strike Fighter is “complementary” to the F-22 but is no substitute for it, the Congressmen noted. Optimized for ground attack, the JSF will “leverage technologies that have been developed for the F-22.” Without the F-22, however, the JSF “will have to be redesigned and reconfigured to meet the requirements that our military will face in the future,” adding delay and cost to the program.
The group pointed out that the F-22 has been 15 years and $18 billion in development, with “strong bipartisan Congressional support.” It also noted that, while the F-22 was “unpredictably delayed” in achieving the stiff criteria set by Congress for low-rate production, the criteria have been met.
“It is important to emphasize two important facts,” the Congressmen said. First, they wrote, “no new fighter development program in history will have conducted as much testing prior to the LRIP decision,” and second, “the F-22 program is sound and meeting or exceeding all technical requirements.”
The F-22, the Congressmen said, “is a critical asset for our ability to fight and win future wars.”
New Raids Spotlight the Saddam Problem
Ten years after the Gulf War, President George W. Bush must deal with the foreign policy problem that most concerned his father: Iraq.
Air strikes launched by US and British forces on Feb. 16 were the first military action of the younger Bush’s presidency and a reminder that the “Saddam Hussein problem” has now bedeviled a second Bush generation.
Military officials said the Feb. 16 air strikes were launched in response to a sudden increase in the ability of Iraqi anti-aircraft sites to “see” and target coalition aircraft patrolling no-fly enforcement zones in the north and south of the country. Post-raid reports that Chinese workers were helping install fiber-optic cables linking Saddam’s air defense sites provided a further explanation for the need for coalition forces to act when they did.
This latest round of raids is unlikely to be the last word on the subject, Pentagon officials said Feb. 20. US forces will remain engaged in the area as long as political leaders deem it necessary.
Officials did not immediately provide detailed damage assessments for the five command-and-control nodes that were targeted by 24 USAF, RAF, and US Navy warplanes.
“But from what we know so far, we feel we had an impact in the overall goal of disrupting and degrading the Iraqi air defense system in the south,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley.
In the past, the Iraqis have always regenerated capabilities after such strikes, and they are likely to do so again. More confrontation is likely to follow.
“They have a very good internal capability to repair a variety of military systems, and that would include radars,” said Quigley. “We [didn’t] expect our strikes [on Feb. 16] to be the end of Iraqi air defense engaging coalition aircraft.”
Americans Believe Gulf War Was Worthwhile
The people of the United States, by and large, are pleased that this nation conducted the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
That is the conclusion of a new Gallup poll conducted Feb. 19-21, 10 years after the conclusion of the conflict.
Americans today believe, by a 2-to-1 margin (63 percent to 31 percent), the Gulf War was worth it.
Moreover, a majority (52 percent to 42 percent) told the Gallup pollsters they would favor sending US troops back to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power.
Bush DOD Budget Marks Time
The Bush Administration on Feb. 28 asked Congress for $310.5 billion in budget authority for the Defense Department in the 2002 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
That amount represents a $14.2 billion increase over the amount in the Clinton Administration’s 2001 budget but was the same as Clinton’s 2002 proposal, which he made as he left office.
In that amount is $2.6 billion for a Bush Administration Pentagon research and development initiative “for missile defense alternatives and new technologies to support the transformation of US military capabilities,” according to the White House.
The budget submission contained virtually no detailed programmatic information. That won’t come until the completion or near-completion of the Bush Administration’s major miliary review. The White House said it will determine final 2002 and future years defense funding levels only when the review is complete.
One of the few specifics was President Bush’s vow to raise military personnel pay an average of 4.6 percent.
The five-year budget barely keeps up with the Administration estimates of future inflation. Bush’s defenders say he will come back to Congress with a heftier budget proposal once Congress has dealt with the issue of a federal tax cut.
House Veterans Chairman Unveils Veterans Benefits Package
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the new chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on Feb. 28 introduced a wide-ranging burial, disability, and pension improvement bill.
The bill’s provisions would increase the burial and funeral allowance from $1,500 to $2,000 for veterans whose deaths are service-connected and from $300 to $500 for vets with nonservice-connected disabilities.
The burial plot allowance would rise from $150 to $300.
Severely disabled vets would find their assistance allowance for automobile and adaptive equipment increasing from $8,000 to $9,000 and for specially adapted housing from $43,000 to $48,000.
The VA’s means-tested pension program would no longer count the value of real property used for agriculture when figuring net worth, under the terms of Smith’s legislation.
The bill would also extend the period for which transition counseling is available to those ending their military careers to as much as 18 months prior to departure, as opposed to the present 90 days.
Smith and the ranking minority member of the committee, Rep. Lane Evans (D) of Illinois, vowed they would put the measure on their fast track and push for full House passage as soon as possible.
Court Says US Owes Vets Health Care
A federal appeals court has ruled that the US government owes two elderly retired veterans free health care for life.
The court declared Feb. 8 that this obligation stems from the fact that recruiters promised the pair such a benefit when they enrolled-and that such a promise was, in essence, a contract.
The decision directly affects only two retired Air Force lieutenant colonels from Fort Walton Beach, Fla.: William O. Schism, who served in the Navy and Air Force, retiring in 1979, and Robert L. Reinlie, who served in the Army and Air Force and retired in 1968. The ruling says the government owes each man as much as $10,000, which is the maximum they can claim from the federal government under breach of contract law.
However, their lawyer, Medal of Honor recipient Col. George E. “Bud” Day, USAF (Ret.), said he was trying to have the case declared a class action suit, potentially opening up free government health care for retired military members-and their spouses-who entered service prior to 1956. It was in 1956 that Congress passed a law that provided health care for military retirees on a space-available basis only.
“The retirees entered active duty in the armed forces and completed at least 20 years’ service on the good-faith belief that the government would fulfill its promises,” wrote the three-member appeals court panel. “The terms of the contract were set when the retirees entered the service and fulfilled their obligation. The government cannot unilaterally amend the contract terms now.”
The US government does not deny that it had long promised free health care for life to those who would sign up. Its position is that such recruiter promises are not official, contractual promises and therefore do not obligate Uncle Sam.
The Justice Department was studying whether to appeal the ruling.
For an American Submarine, Disaster at Sea
USS Greeneville’s accidental crushing of the Japanese fishing boat Ehime Maru on Feb. 9 has strained relations between the US and Japan and raised questions about basic nuclear sub operations.
The key question the Navy must address: Why didn’t the sub’s highly trained crew spot a 190-foot fishing boat in its immediate area? The accident occurred while Greeneville was practicing a rapid emergency ascent. The maneuver, called an emergency main ballast tank blow, sends the submerged boat to the surface at high speed.
“The seriousness in which I view this tragic accident is reflected in the level of the investigation,” said Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Thomas B. Fargo on Feb. 17, announcing the convening of a rare Naval Court of Inquiry. Investigations into the accident “will provide a full and open accounting to both the American and the Japanese people,” said Fargo.
Ehime Maru carried students from Uwajima Fisheries High School. Four teenagers, three crew members, and two instructors were missing and presumed dead after the collision.
The case caused a sensation in Japan, where many suspected the Navy of downplaying the role of 16 civilian observers on Greeneville at the time of the incident. Some of the civilians on board the sub were contributors to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, a nonprofit group that supports the maintenance of the battleship.
The outcry in Japan was such that Fuji Television was forced to cancel a scheduled broadcast of the movie “Titanic.” Adm. William J. Fallon, the Navy’s second-ranking officer, delivered a letter of apology from President Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister.
In the letter, President Bush said he “sympathizes with [victim’s] families’ desire” to raise the sunken Ehime Maru.
Navy officials discount any physical role on the part of the civilian observers, saying the sub’s crew would have had their hands on crucial controls at all times. But it is possible the presence of so many observers in the sub’s cramped quarters distracted crew members, causing them to miss sonar returns or other hints that a ship was in their operational area.
Other possible explanations: Greeneville did not rise high enough out of the water to provide its periscope a clear field of view during a pre-ascent examination of the area; the white fishing boat was coming straight at the sub and presented a narrow profile that blended easily with the background; or the emergency blow took longer than the standard 15 minutes to complete.
Ehime Maru now lies in about 2,000 feet of water, nine miles off Oahu’s landmark Diamond Head. Navy officials said they are considering how to attempt the difficult task of raising the 500-ton boat from its deep-water resting place.
Americans Support Idea of Missile Shield
A recent Gallup poll declares that Americans support the concept of building a national missile defense system to ward off ballistic missile attacks.
The poll, results of which were released Feb. 15, found that 44 percent of Americans express support for developing a defense system against nuclear missiles while 20 percent are opposed, and more than a third (36 percent) say they are unsure.
AUSA Leader Cites Limits and Failures of Airpower
In a signed column in the Washington Times March 3, Gordon Sullivan, president of the Association of the US Army, declared that the Army “provides the decisive element” in the nation’s capability “to respond across the spectrum of conflict-from deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction to waging effective and sustained operations to enforce the peace.”
Sullivan, a retired four-star general, is a former Army Chief of Staff.
His case for the Army, however, was leveraged considerably on what he described as the limitations and failures of airpower, particularly in the Gulf War of 1991 and in Operation Allied Force in Serbia in 1999.
“Although the Persian Gulf War successfully demonstrated the ability of high-tech ‘smart’ weapons to destroy enemy equipment and facilities from long distances, some forget that despite massive air strikes the bulk of Saddam’s armed forces remained intact and entrenched in Kuwait,” Sullivan said.
“Although a good jab is important for a boxer to set up his opponent for a knockout blow, jabs alone do not win fights-and airpower alone does not win wars. Ground forces achieved in 100 hours what airpower could not achieve in six weeks of around-the-clock bombings.”
Sullivan said that the experience of airpower has not lived up to theories about it. “Indeed, our experience bombing the Germans in Dresden, the Vietnamese in Hanoi, and the Serbs in Belgrade provides ample evidence that air campaigns do not generate effective pressure on target regimes. Instead, they often fortify enemy resolve, as the Germans also discovered in 1944-45 with their V2 rocket campaign against the British .”
He added that “while the failure of overwhelming air superiority to force Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait during the Gulf War demonstrated the limited ability of airpower to coerce an opponent, more recent history demonstrates its limited ability to deter an enemy. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic knew that efforts to ethnically cleanse Kosovo would result in NATO air strikes, but he used his troops to force hundreds of thousands from their homes. For weeks, the Serbs withstood extensive damage to their military and economic infrastructure. Mr. Milosevic only capitulated when he recognized that the United States was preparing to send ground troops into Kosovo.”
JFK Considered Bombing China’s Nuke Sites
A study of newly declassified documents contends that the Administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson held extensive internal debates about ways in which they might prevent Communist China from testing its first nuclear weapon.
Among the possibilities were direct attacks on Chinese nuclear plants.
While historians have long known that Kennedy, in particular, mulled such a pre-emptive strike, the extent of US efforts to keep the atomic bomb out of the hands of Mao Zedong had never before been revealed, write William Burr and Jeffrey T. Richelson, senior analysts at George Washington University’s National Security Archive.
Their article was published in the journal International Security.
William Foster, Kennedy’s Arms Control and Disarmament Agency director, said JFK occasionally would say something like this: “You know, it wouldn’t be too hard if we could somehow get kind of an anonymous airplane to go over there, take out the Chinese facilities-they’ve only got a couple-and maybe we could do it, or maybe the Soviets could do it.”
US concern about the possible acquisition of nuclear arms by China predated Kennedy’s election, but it was only in the early 1960s, Burr and Richelson write, that U-2 flights and new spy satellite imagery combined to produce hard evidence of Chinese facilities involved in nuclear production.
Kennedy officials worried that a nuclear China could become dangerously assertive in East Asia, increasing its power and prestige at the expense of the United States while adding to the problem of nuclear proliferation.
By early 1963, U-2 flights carried out by Nationalist Chinese pilots had revealed a nuclear complex at Baotou and a fissile materials plant at Lanzhou, among other facilities. But US officials had little information about the pace of the Chinese program.
One track of US policy was to try to enlist the Soviets in some sort of joint action against the Chinese. The USSR had recently broken with Beijing, but Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev rebuffed the US overtures.
In a September 1964 meeting with McGeorge Bundy, Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin blamed the Sino-Soviet split on Mao’s “personal megalomania,” according to US documents, but then went on to argue that a Chinese nuclear capability had “no importance against the Soviet Union or against the US.”
The second track-unilateral action-entailed the study of an array of options. A study produced by Air Force Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, weighed infiltration, sabotage, or invasion by Chinese Nationalists, as well as maritime blockades, conventional air attacks, and use of US tactical nuclear weapons on a selected Chinese target.
But the dangers of such action were many and obvious. The Nationalist Chinese themselves did not have the men or equipment to carry out an attack. US air attacks would require many sorties to ensure target destruction. To the world, the US would appear the aggressor. Even if successful, a sabotage operation would only delay, not prevent, China’s acquisition of nuclear arms.
Authors Richelson and Burr point out that LeMay himself, in a memo, concluded that it was “unrealistic to use overt military force” in this situation.
Johnson was less alarmist about China. Facing a general election against hawkish Republican Barry Goldwater, he wished to appear the candidate of peace. He also worried that such a move could cause a dangerous escalation of the Vietnam War.
In the end, the US settled for simply trying to steal some of China’s thunder. On Sept. 29, State Department spokesman Robert McCloskey announced that a Chinese nuclear test might occur in the near future. He was more right than he or any other US official knew at the time-the test took place on Oct. 16.
More Problems for V-22
Crucial flight tests that might have shed light on rapid descent problems were cut from the V-22 development program to save money, according to two critical reports made public in February.
Such rapid descent “vortex ring state” phenomena are thought to have been a major factor in the April 8, 2000, V-22 crash in which 19 Marines were killed. This disclosure of the curtailed test regime is yet another blow to a weapons system that is already troubled by reports of falsified maintenance records and hydraulic failure.
Only a third of the planned vortex ring-related tests were actually flown, according to a Defense Science Board report. In fact, the DSB said some extremely critical test points were not flown at all.
Vortex ring state can occur if a helicopter drops very quickly while moving forward slowly, causing a loss of lift of the propeller rotors. Other terms for the effect are rotor blade stall and power settling.
A single-rotor helicopter can ride out some vortex ring events with a hard landing or controlled crash. But with the dual-rotor V-22 it is possible for one rotor to lose lift, and not the other, resulting in a very dangerous situation.
Thus the V-22 “appears to be less forgiving than conventional helicopters,” according to a General Accounting Office report. The consequence of a too-rapid descent for Osprey “appears to be excessively grave,” continued the GAO.
A Marine investigation of last April’s crash found that the pilot did indeed violate flight manual descent procedures, likely plunging the aircraft into a vortex ring state.
The DOD Inspector General’s office officially took over the investigation of allegations that the V-22 squadron commander falsified maintenance records in an effort to conceal the amount of upkeep the aircraft requires.
Marine leaders remain adamant in their support of the V-22 as being important to the Corps’ future ability to deploy rapidly in a high-threat environment.
Double Agent Ransacks US Secrets for Russia
By all accounts, FBI Special Agent Robert P. Hanssen–who was arrested Feb. 18 and charged with espionage–had no sympathy for Communism as an ideology. He professed disinterest in money, although he did allegedly accept payments of up to $1.4 million for passing along secrets gleaned through his own counterintelligence work for 15 years.
The only aspect of his spying that really stood out was Hanssen’s reveling in the execution of tradecraft and his ability to carry out espionage without attracting attention. He was so deft that he continually refused to adopt the Soviet, or Russian, way of doing things, insisting on his own. His own handlers did not learn his name until the day his arrest was announced.
He was “a very, very experienced intelligence officer,” said FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.
The 100-page FBI affidavit filed in court on Hanssen’s activities and made public upon his arrest is a virtual bible of spy trade secrets. When arranging exchanges, Hanssen always encoded places and dates. His computer diskettes were likewise encrypted. Signals for “dead drop” exchanges were kept simple-one vertical strip of white tape meant he was ready to pass along some documents. If there was any flaw in his approach it was perhaps only that he worked too hard, arranging more exchanges of small numbers of documents than the Russians thought wise.
“My security concerns may seem excessive,” he wrote in a letter to his handlers. “I believe experience has shown them to be necessary.”
Court documents allege that Hanssen provided Moscow with the identities of three Russians who had been recruited to spy for the US. Two were subsequently tried and executed.
If true, the allegations against Hanssen would establish him as one of the most damaging, and certainly one of the longest-surviving, moles to ever betray the US government. He may have escaped detection for many years by working in the “slipstream” of Aldrich H. Ames, the CIA agent caught in 1994 who apparently spied mainly for the money.
Hanssen largely kept to himself in his Vienna, Va., neighborhood in the Washington suburbs. He did not live lavishly-he drove a Ford, whereas Ames drove a Jaguar. The only trait he had that bothered some neighbors was his tendency to let his dog run off a leash after dark.
Former FBI Director William Webster will head an official inquiry into how Hanssen evaded detection for 15 years and how future Hanssens can be prevented.
Growing Problems With Nuclear Stockpile
A report issued Feb. 1 by a Congressionally mandated panel warned of growing deficiencies in the nation’s nuclear weapons production complex, including morale problems, maintenance problems, and continued delays of needed weapons refurbishment.
“It is the panel’s view that major steps are needed to put the [nuclear] weapon program on a path that represents our best efforts toward sustaining confidence in the safety and reliability of the stockpile over the coming decades,” wrote panel chairman John S. Foster Jr., a former senior Department of Defense official.
The study of the Panel to Assess the Reliability, Safety, and Security of the US Nuclear Stockpile made recommendations in a number of areas. Among them:
n Missing nuclear-related production capabilities should be restored and the production complex refurbished.
The Iron Lady Would Like Another Whack
A full decade has passed since Britain joined the United States and other coalition nations to expel the Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.
Even so, time has not cooled the debate about whether the victors should have dispatched Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein when they had the chance. The wartime British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, certainly has no doubt.
“I wish I could have stayed on [in power] so that we could have finished the job,” said Thatcher, who was quoted in the London Times. “Perhaps we would not be where we are today if we had acted then. Saddam is a cruel and terrible man. He should not be allowed to remain in power.”
Thatcher spoke at the British embassy in Kuwait during a Feb. 25 commemoration of the liberation of that nation.
Thatcher was in office in the months immediately after Baghdad’s Aug. 2, 1990, invasion, but she soon lost the leadership of the Tories to John Major, who replaced her as Prime Minister before the conclusion of the war.
Four New Names for the Aviation Hall of Fame
The National Aviation Hall of Fame on July 21 will enshrine four new air and space pioneers at its Dayton, Ohio, facility, adjacent to the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
This year’s inductees are:
Marion E. Carl
He was the first Marine ace of World War II, who also became the Corps’ first helicopter pilot. Oregon native Carl earned Navy wings in 1939. Carl made reconnaissance flights over China and some of the first takeoffs and landings of jet aircraft on carriers. The retired major general was killed in 1998 by an intruder in his home.
Joe H. Engle
He was an X-15 pilot and the nation’s youngest astronaut. Born in Abilene, Kan., Engle received Air Force wings in 1958, attended test pilot school at Edwards AFB, Calif., and served as a backup in the Apollo space program. He commanded two space shuttle flights, in 1981 and 1985. He retired as a major general.
Olds was a World War II ace and flew P-80s in the first jet-equipped USAF squadron, serving as wing man on the first aerobatic jet team. Olds was an All-American football star at West Point and later an Army Air Corps ace, fighter wing commander in Vietnam, and commandant at the US Air Force Academy. He retired as a brigadier general.
Albert Lee Ueltschi
He was the founder of FlightSafety International and Project Orbis. Ueltschi’s FlightSafety firm is one of the world’s top flight training organizations with 42 facilities worldwide. Project Orbis, a flying hospital and teaching facility, provides the capability for eye surgery in underdeveloped nations.
Rumsfeld Comments Irk Russian
Gen. Leonid G. Ivashov, the head of international cooperation in Russia’s Defense Ministry, suggested that Moscow had a bone to pick with Donald H. Rumsfeld.
In his Feb. 16 press remarks, the general complained that President Bush’s new Defense Secretary struck a belligerent tone toward his country.
Ivashov said that Russia had been watching a concerted information war on Russia’s prestige and its international position. He said the tone of the comments “smacks of Cold War rhetoric.”
Russia took particular exception to Rumsfeld’s claims that the Kremlin continues to operate as an active supplier of ballistic missile technology to rogue states.
“They are selling and assisting countries like Iran and North Korea and India and other countries with these technologies, which are threatening other people, including the United States and Western Europe and countries in the Middle East,” Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld noted in public remarks that it makes no sense for Moscow to export missile technology and then complain about US efforts to protect itself from that same technology.
- Former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has opened a new strategic consulting firm in Washington, The Cohen Group. The firm will advise US companies on international growth and general strategy, said Cohen.
- The Air Force announced Jan. 23 that it plans to assign 13 of its new C-17 Globemasters to McGuire AFB, N.J., beginning in July 2004, pending a favorable environmental impact analysis. Alternative bases would be Charleston AFB, S.C., which already has C-17s, or Dover AFB, Del.
- Northrop Grumman has begun production of 55 replacement wings for Air Force T-38 Talon supersonic trainers. Replacement wings will ensure that the 40-year-old T-38s remain in the air while Northrop is designing a completely new wing, scheduled to enter production in 2006. The replacement and new wing are expected to extend the T-38’s service life another four decades.
- On Jan. 30, a Boeing Delta II rocket successfully placed a Global Positioning System satellite into space.
- An accident report released Feb. 2 said the Sept. 14 crash of an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle near Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nev., was caused by pilot error. The pilot inadvertently cleared the aircraft’s primary control module’s random access memory, severing its data link connections with ground control.
- Two Air National Guard F-16 pilots survived a midair collision Jan. 30 and landed safely with minor injuries. The pilots were on a night vision goggles upgrade mission and were flying side by side when the accident occurred.
- Investigators have determined that a circuit breaker panel was the most likely origin of a fire that destroyed a Minot AFB, N.D., missile alert facility Nov. 30. The fire gutted the 8,000-square-foot above-ground facility.
- On Feb. 5 Boeing announced completion of the flight-test program for the X-32A Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator. Since first flight Sept. 18, the X-32A has completed 50.4 flight hours under the control of six different pilots. All test objectives were met, said Boeing officials.
- On Jan. 25, Lockheed Martin completed assembly of the first “stretched” C-130J-30 airlifter for the Air Force. Five extended fuselage C-130s are currently on USAF order.
- The Defense Commissary Agency will close six Stateside stores this year in an ongoing effort to streamline operations. Marked for closure are stores at Pope AFB, N.C.; Kelly AFB, Tex.; Defense Supply Center in Richmond, Va.; Sierra Army Depot, Herlong, Calif.; Cutler Naval Computer Telecommunications Station, Machias, Maine.; and Brooks AFB, Tex.
- The Air Force Academy is now accepting nominations for a new award jointly established by the academy and its Association of Graduates. The award is intended to honor academy grads who have made exceptional contributions to the nation and their communities, via either military or civilian accomplishments.
- The Air Force has removed the Red Cross emblem from the service’s fleet of C-9 aircraft. Under international law, aircraft bearing such a symbol can fly only medical missions. Removal thus allows expanded use of the fleet. The emblem can be re-applied as needed.
- DOD’s first Reserve Component Family Readiness Award has gone to the family readiness office at Homestead ARS, Fla. The office won the award primarily due to its efforts to ease the difficulties of separation during deployments.
- The US Air Forces in Europe Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, has become the third educational institution in the world to receive international accreditation for a fire academies rescue technician course. The accreditation will allow the group to take its course on the road and serve as a mobile training organization for rescue certifications at US bases throughout Europe.
- Pentagon officials are planning to send investigators to two crash sites in the Himalayas-sites that may hold remains of US airmen lost during World War II. One of the sites has been linked to the disappearance of a C-46 transport March 27, 1944, on a flight from Kunming, China, to far northeastern India.
- There is no hiring freeze at the Pentagon, but DOD officials are reviewing their civilian workforce requirements and hiring procedures, per a memo from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to that effect issued on Feb. 9.
- Recent publicity detailing evidence that the first US pilot shot down during the Gulf War may have survived the crash resulted in many new leads in the case, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Los Angeles Times in February. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher was declared dead after the war, but discovery of his F/A-18’s wreckage and other clues and pressure from Roberts and other lawmakers has led the Pentagon to reclassify him as missing in action.
- Four sets of remains of unidentified World War II and Korean War casualties were disinterred from Hawaii’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on Jan. 30. Officials intend to use DNA tests to attempt to establish identities.
- President Bush will call for a new round of military base closings, perhaps as early as next year, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) told the San Antonio Express-News on Jan. 26. “I know they’re going to ask for it at some point,” said Gramm.
- The Bush Administration’s strategic review is a good thing-but it is incomplete, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Missile defense ought to be included in this review-it seems to be left out,” he told reporters.
- The Defense Science Board says all of the services place low priority on training. It should be made an equal partner in the acquisition and testing process, said a DSB report.
- A new phased-array radar went into operation at Clear AFS, Alaska, on Feb. 1. The new equipment replaces an old mechanical radar and will help the 13th Space Warning Squadron carry out its mission of space surveillance and missile launch early warning.
- Navy Reserve personnel helped Air Force counterparts make improvements to the north auxiliary airfield at Charleston AFB, S.C., Feb. 2 to 4. Naval Mobility Construction Battalion 14, from NAS Jacksonville, Fla., saw the effort as a way to extend a hand to another service while gaining realistic unit practice in rapid response for contingency construction.
- McChord AFB, Wash., suffered minimal damage in the strong earthquake that rocked the Pacific Northwest on Feb. 28. There were no injuries and no aircraft were damaged in the temblor, said base officials.