Pilot error was the cause of the Dec. 10 crash of a C-130E transport in Kuwait, according to a newly released accident report.
The aircraft, part of USAF’s 9th Expeditionary Airlift Group, crashed at Ahmed Al Jaber AB in the Persian Gulf nation. The nighttime accident killed three airmen and injured seven others.
According to the report, the C-130 crew members failed “to follow governing directives” and exhibited “complacency in flight operations” during the airplane’s approach to the Ahmed Al Jaber runway. Thus “they failed to monitor their instruments, which is critical during night flying with reduced visibility.”
The report states, “The pilot never recognized his landing picture, with reference to the runway, and failed to transition to a normal visual glide path for landing.” Morever, the approach was “conducted below weather minimums and in violation of landing restrictions on [the chosen runway].” Additionally, the crew failed to contact the tower for confirmation of runway visibility after being warned by the weather office about fog in the area.
At about 125 feet above ground level, the C-130 entered a fog bank, and the pilot and copilot lost sight of the runway. None of the flight crew had recognized the need to correct the aircraft’s unusually steep rate of descent. The airplane hit the ground 2,890 feet short of the runway. The crew managed to get the aircraft back into the air, flying about five feet above ground when it then struck the antenna of an instrument landing system.
The initial impact destroyed the airplane’s main landing gear and forced the crew to make a no-gear landing at Kuwait City IAP.
The Air Force on April 14 said it will charge a Noncommissioned Officer with dereliction of duty in connection with the heatstroke death of a recruit at Lackland AFB, Texas, last September.
Two officers and three other NCOs will be reprimanded for their part in the tragedy, said officials.
Trainee Micah J. Schindler died two days after collapsing of heatstroke during a training march in midday Texas heat. His heatstroke was complicated by overhydration, or drinking too much water, said officials.
The officials claimed that the NCO charged with dereliction failed to see the seriousness of Schindler’s condition after he vomited during a meal break, less than an hour before he collapsed.
Maximum punishment for the charge under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice includes reduction in rank, 30 days in correctional custody, and half pay for two months. The NCO may request a trial by military court instead of accepting the punishment.
The Air Force declined to release the names of those charged.
According to news reports, Schindler’s family regretted the service’s decision to not file criminal charges against anyone involved in the incident.
Cable News Network settled a defamation lawsuit brought by retired Army Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub as a result of the network’s misbegotten 1998 “Tailwind” broadcast, according to the Associated Press.
The network identified Singlaub as a source of the Tailwind story, which charged that the US military used prohibited nerve gas in attacks on US defectors and others during the Vietnam War.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
CNN was forced to retract the nerve gas charge one month after the airing of the Tailwind segment. The story had elicited a firestorm of negative reaction from former members of the US military, who charged the basic story was a fabrication. CNN officials, revisiting the issue, found they could not verify the story’s accuracy.
Two producers were fired, and a third quit. The lead named reporter on Tailwind, Peter Arnett, kept his job only by arguing that he did little on the story and simply repeated assertions handed to him in a script. However, he was placed in limbo, appearing on air only once before CNN used an exit clause in his contract with two years still remaining of the five-year pact.
In a move that is roiling the top ranks of the Army, the service’s highest-ranking woman charges that in 1996 she was sexually harassed by a general officer colleague.
Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, head of Army intelligence, alleges that a fellow general–identified in news reports as Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith–made sexual advances during a meeting in her Pentagon office.
Kennedy never reported the alleged incident at the time; rather, she dealt with it directly. However, when Smith was tapped for a promotion to become deputy inspector general of the Army, she felt it was imperative to advise the Army, since he would supervise investigations of sexual harassment claims.
Swirls of charges and countercharges-including various charges by anonymous officers against Kennedy-regarding the principals have been covered in news reports. The Army and Pentagon refuse to officially confirm Smith is under investigation. Neither general has spoken publicly about the issue.
A May 11 Washington Post report states that Army investigators have substantiated Kennedy’s charge. Although Kennedy did not report the incident in 1996, she apparently had confided in several friends.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon would still not comment, saying that the news reports have “made clear that whatever process there is [is] still under way.”
Smith has denied making an improper advance, according to reports. An article in The Washington Times May 12 stated that military sources say Smith is thinking of asking DoD to reinvestigate the case.
The Army has faced several high-profile sexual harassment cases in the past few years. One involved an Army general officer who had also been tapped for the deputy inspector general position. He retired as an investigation was launched into charges that he had had sex with the wives of subordinates and lied to Army investigators about it. After the charges became public, Maj. Gen. David R. Hale was recalled from retirement to face a court-martial. He was fined and reduced in rank.
The current case represents the first known charge of general vs. general sexual harassment.
The Air Force should get ready for a surge in space launch activity in coming years by streamlining and updating safety management practices at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif., according to a new report from the National Academy of Sciences.
The 55-page report, titled “Streamlining Space Launch Range Safety,” was prepared by the National Research Council under commission by Air Force Space Command.
Among other items, the report concluded that the Air Force should proceed with plans to replace outdated tracking radars with satellite-based tracking systems.
“Launch range operators can maintain today’s high level of safety while reducing costs by using satellite technology, for example, which is more efficient than a conventional radar system and can track rockets just as accurately,” said Robert E. Whitehead, committee chair and a retired NASA administrator.
The report also urged the service to shift launch-tracking functions for the Africa “gate” at Antigua and Ascension islands in the Atlantic Ocean to sites closer to the US. That would allow range safety officers to destroy rockets earlier if there is any chance they will fall to Earth during a brief pass over Africa on their way toward orbit.
However, the report noted that the chance of such an accident ever occurring is small, as rockets that pass over the gate are on the verge of entering space, and that more modern technologies can in any case do the same job from elsewhere.
The NRC also said that the military should redouble its efforts to keep boats and airplanes out of restricted zones prior to launch-especially near Cape Canaveral.
The Air Force should make greater use of news media to alert the public, said the report.
Another aspect of the report stated that despite organizational changes within the Air Force some overlaps continue. In 1997, Air Force Space Command transferred oversight for acquisition-like functions related to range safety to Air Force Materiel Command. The report noted that “the complete transfer … would, if properly implemented, increase efficiency and reduce costs without compromising safety.”
The Department of Defense estimates that the full cost of buying and running a National Missile Defense system through 2026 will be $30.2 billion, officials said April 4.
That is more than twice the $12.7 billion often cited by the Clinton Administration in the past as the life-cycle cost of the system.
The $12.7 billion figure represents only acquisition costs incurred from 1999 through 2005, said a Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley. It does not include $7.5 billion previously spent on the National Missile Defense effort. Nor does it include substantial acquisition costs that would be incurred after 2005.
Last year, Administration and military officials decided that NMD plans should reflect the need for 100 ground-based interceptors purchased by 2007. Previous plans had called for only 20 interceptors, with procurement ending in 2005.
“The total life-cycle cost of the program from 1991 to 2026 is projected to be $30.2 billion,” Quigley said. “I’m talking maintenance, I’m talking everything.”
All of the dollar amounts are expressed in base-year Fiscal 1999 dollars, according to Quigley.
The Air Force on March 29 released study results that have once again raised questions about whether human exposure to Agent Orange and its contaminant dioxin is in some way associated with adult-onset diabetes.
The long-term Air Force effort is called the Ranch Hand Study, named for the operation in the 1960s in which the Air Force sprayed defoliant herbicides over Vietnam in an effort to deny the Viet Cong foliage cover and crops. Since it began in 1982 the study has focused on whether long-term effects exist in Ranch Hand air- and ground-crew personnel that can be attributed to the herbicides.
The results released in March suggest that as dioxin levels in the body increase, the presence and severity of adult-onset diabetes increase, and the time it takes to contract the illness decreases. A 47 percent increase in diabetes was found among those with the highest measured levels of dioxin.
Officials noted that after 15 years of follow up, the Ranch Hand Study has found no consistent evidence that dioxin exposure is related to cancer.
Ranch Hand crew members as a group show a 6 percent greater risk of cancer than a comparison group of Air Force veterans involved with C-130 missions in Southeast Asia during the same period as Operation Ranch Hand. However, differences by occupation and service within the data suggest that herbicide or dioxin exposure is not the cause of this increased risk factor.
For example, the subgroup that had the highest exposure to dioxin-Ranch Hand ground crew members-exhibited a 22 percent decreased risk of cancer, noted the study.
Communist Vietnam has broken ground for an ambitious project to build a 1,000-mile-long highway along stretches of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail, the network of roads along the nation’s spine used for the transport of troops and supplies to Communist forces in the south during the Vietnam War.
Hanoi claims that the road project will turn a symbol of conflict into an engine of economic growth for the nation’s poor western provinces. Outside experts were skeptical, noting that most of the country’s population is along the coast and that the main coastal northsouth highway is itself not overly congested.
Some said any money spent on the Ho Chi Minh project would be better used to improve the country’s existing road network. Highways are so bad that foreign firms are reluctant to set up factories in rural areas. Urban streets are so crowded that daily commutes are maddeningly long.
Twenty-five years after its military victory, Vietnam is attempting to turn a number of war relics into economic assets. Some former US military bases have been converted into special export processing zones that produce clothes and other consumer goods.
The US is negotiating with Qatar for the right to land expeditionary aircraft forces at the Gulf nation’s Al Uedid AB, said defense officials accompanying Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen on a swing through the region April 5.
“There’s willingness by both parties to reach an agreement,” said a defense official. “It’s just a matter of terms and conditions.”
Among the issues are which nation will pay for new hangars, prefabricated maintenance buildings, aprons, and other improvements needed to allow the base to accommodate 30 to 40 fighters, which would be part of US Central Command forces.
Qatar reportedly wants a visible US presence as a means to help it defend its offshore North Field, which is the world’s largest natural gas reservoir. It extends into the Gulf near Iranian waters.
The DoD official emphasized, however, that the negotiations did not come in response to a specific action by either Iran or Iraq. Instead, the talks are part and parcel of a US effort to build an integrated regional coalition.
“Our presence at the base would be one part of that regional security framework-not focused at one particular country or another, but part of a system we would like to have in place,” said the official.
The Lancer Military Operations Area in central Texas plus Instrument Route 178 in west Texas will be the site for the new training range called for by Air Combat Command’s Realistic Bomber Training Initiative, Air Force officials announced in late March.
The Lancer option won out over another Texas site, a northern New Mexico site, and a no-action alternative, which would mean continuing to use distant ranges.
The RBTI is aimed at improving the realism of training for B-1 crews from Dyess AFB, Texas, and B-52 crews from Barksdale AFB, La. The new Texas site should also reduce training transit time for the crews by 70 percent, according to Air Force estimates. Currently the crews have to travel as far as Wyoming and South Dakota to find real-world-type flying space.
Three existing military training areas will be consolidated into a single 40-by-80 nautical-mile rectangle to create the Lancer MOA. Some 85 percent of Lancer and IR 178 will come from existing military airspace.
Two electronic scoring sites will be constructed to support the RBTI. Sites in Harrison, Ark., and La Junta, Colo., will close, and affected employees, currently 61 civilians, will be given the chance to relocate to Texas.
Local opponents of the creation of the Lancer MOA have long worried that it would increase the number of low-level bomber flights in the area. Air Force officials insist that the total number of low-level sorties will not go up. The minimum altitude in Lancer will be 3,000 feet above the ground.
“I am glad the voices of west Texas have been heard,” said Rep. Henry Bonilla (RTexas) in a prepared statement. “The original RBTI proposal by the Air Force called for an increase of 1,100 low-level bomber training sorties over my district. The final report will result in no increase in bombers flying over west Texas.”
A United States Air Forces in Europe study on the lessons learned from Operation Allied Force is not going to be made public.
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen made the decision to not release the unclassified “Air War Over Kosovo” study, which was finished in January and approved for release by Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters and Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan.
The report, written by Brig. Gen. John Corley, USAFE’s director of studies and analysis, does not reach conclusions that are significantly different from the Pentagon’s own already-released after-action study, according to sources.
But Cohen does not want any more US military studies of the fight against Yugoslavia perhaps confusing issues, said officials. “As far as there being a comprehensive look at Allied Force in its entirety, … Secretary Cohen … felt that it was important that we should have one voice,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley.
Saudi Arabian officials discussed the purchase of 24 more F-15S Eagles with Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen during his trip to the Gulf region in early April.
The aircraft would be intended as replacements for 80 aging Saudi F-5s. They would add to the Gulf kingdom’s already substantial F-15 fleet: 91 C and D air superiority fighters and 50 multirole S versions specially tailored to Saudi requirements.
Discussions regarding the purchase of the Boeingmade aircraft are still preliminary. Details of how the Saudis would finance the buy are not yet clear.
Boeing is eager to lock up additional foreign F-15 sales. The company’s St. Louis. production line is scheduled to complete its final USAF aircraft this summer.
Without new orders, it would have to shut down the line. Members of the Missouri Congressional delegation, most notably Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond, have been avidly promoting further production of the F-15 for USAF attrition reserve and as a complement to the forthcoming F-22 fighter.
The number of US troops in Saudi Arabia is not going to be reduced.
That is a message Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen was eager to convey, following his discussion about regional security issues in early April with Saudi Defense and Aviation Minister Prince Sultan.
The subject never came up, despite news reports that indicated some of the approximately 4,000 US service personnel based at Prince Sultan AB in the Gulf kingdom might be going home.
“We have no plans to reduce the number of airmen or planes at Prince Sultan AB, and the topic of reducing airmen in Saudi Arabia was not discussed … between Secretary Cohen and Prince Sultan,” said Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon on April 10.
For his part, Prince Sultan insisted that the US troops were welcome in his nation and operated under a UNagreed framework to conduct no-fly-zone enforcement over southern Iraq.
“These troops are doing their duties to keep [the] peace only, not for aggression,” said Prince Sultan at a news conference following the Jeddah talks with his US counterpart.
Other topics that came up between Prince Sultan and Secretary Cohen included Peninsula Shield. Peninsula Shield forces are composed of troops from the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council-Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates-who get together for exercises about once every two years. Prince Sultan suggested that the US might join in Peninsula Shield training.
The Saudi defense minister also offered guarded support for recent US efforts to reach out to Iran in hopes of establishing better ties.
“All steps taken by the United States toward this goal are welcome,” he said.
A software glitch caused the December mishap involving a Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, according to an Air Force accident report released April 24.
The incident occurred Dec. 6 at shortly after four in the afternoon, after Global Hawk No. 3 had completed a successful mission and a full-stop landing at Edwards AFB, Calif. Suddenly, the UAV accelerated to an excessive taxi speed of 155 knots and veered off the main runway, causing the collapse of its nose gear and damage to its sensor suite.
“The excessive ground speed was introduced by a combination of known software problems between the vehicle’s Air Force Mission Support System Core mission planning system and its aircraft/weapon/electronicsspecific mission planning system,” said Col. James R. Heald, Accident Investigation Board president.
Once the vehicle started taxiing too fast, the mission planning and validation processes did not recognize that something was wrong, said Heald. The incident occurred too fast for the Global Hawk’s handlers to stop it from leaving the runway.
Damage was estimated at $5.3 million, according to Air Force officials.
Panel Says Two-War Strategy Is Outdated
The Pentagon needs to ditch its “two Major Theater War” strategy for sizing military forces and try something different, concludes a report released April 19 by the US Commission on National Security/21st Century.
Better known as the HartRudman Commission, the panel is chaired by former Sens. Gary Hart (DColo.) and Warren Rudman (R-N.H.). It was established in 1998 to recommend new national security strategies.
The panel’s report-its second in a series of three-offered little of note other than its two-war recommendation.
In the 1990s, DoD has sought to structure and train its forces to be able to fight and win two MTWs at more or less the same time. The military has claimed it needs such forces to deter potential aggression against US interests in a second area should the US military already be engaged in major combat elsewhere.
This strategy, claimed the panel, prevents the United States from fielding all of the kinds of forces it needs to be able to address existing and emerging threats.
“This commission believes that the ‘two Major Theater Wars’ yardstick for sizing US forces is not producing the capabilities needed for the varied and complex contingencies now occurring and likely to increase in the years ahead,” said the report.
More specifically, the panel claims the present method of sizing forces will no longer be viable in the coming decades, as an increasing number of interventions overseas, such as those required to promote regional stability, call for standing up forces “different from those designed for Major Theater War.”
Consequently, the United States must “adapt portions of its force structure to meet these needs.”
To conduct such interventions-which will become more difficult with the continued proliferation of defense-related technologies to potential adversaries-the United States needs “rapidly employable” expeditionary capabilities and humanitarian relief and constabulary capabilities.
The report also specifies three other capabilities needed for the early 21st century-nuclear forces to protect the United States and allies; conventional forces to win major wars; and homeland security capabilities, which may include a National Missile Defense.
The Phase 2 report, though it trashes the Pentagon’s existing force-sizing mechanism, stops short of recommending an alternative that would be more in line with the capabilities it advocates. The outcome is surprising since devising an alternative was the subject of considerable debate among panel members as they worked to finalize the Phase 2 report.
Some members called for scrapping the two MTW strategy by taking resources presently devoted to fighting one potential major war and using them to constitute rapidly employable expeditionary forces and constabulary forces. Other members wanted the commission to focus on adding resources to the defense budget to achieve those goals.
In the end, commissioners agreed that given today’s demands on the military, and those anticipated over the next 25 years, “it is evident that modern forces equal to these demands cannot be sustained by current levels of spending.”
When the Phase 2 study was unveiled at the National Press Club in Washington, Rudman said the commission plans, in the next report, to address how to adapt the Pentagon’s existing force structure to meet existing and emerging threats. “These kinds of specific recommendations are not properly placed in a document that mainly deals with strategy,” he said. It is due early next year, just as the Pentagon embarks on a new Quadrennial Defense Review and a new Presidential Administration takes office.
F-22 Faces Another Congressional Test
For the F-22, this year’s ride through Congress may well turn out to be a white-knuckle affair, as it was last year.
Several factors-including the recently concluded strike at subcontractor Boeing-could keep the Air Force from meeting the program’s Congressionally mandated testing requirements for 2000.
A key legislator-Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), head of the defense appropriations subcommittee-says he will try to block funding for the airplane if it does not meet the designated test schedule. Lewis mounted a serious stop-the-F-22 effort in 1999, catching many of the fighter’s supporters by surprise.
While he praises the airplane’s cutting-edge technology, Lewis continues to question the need for the aircraft, saying in a statement that it is “difficult” to “convince ourselves” that future foes will be so “extraordinarily formidable” that their defeat would require the F-22.
This year the Air Force is requesting $4 billion to continue development and to buy 10 production aircraft.
The biggest technical problem now facing the Air Force and F-22 prime contractor Lockheed Martin deals with the aircraft’s Block 3 integrated avionics software package.
The F-22’s avionics are intended to be a major reason why the fighter should dominate skies well into the 21st century. The system will show pilots an environment that identifies hostile aircraft and ground threats and allows targeting with a click of a mouse. In addition, the airplane’s electronics are supposed to be able to fix themselves by recognizing failure in sensors and other electronic parts and reconfiguring to keep the system operating.
Boeing is the F-22’s major avionics subcontractor-and Boeing engineers recently went on strike for 40 days.
The Air Force had figured that a 60-day strike would make it unlikely that Block 3 software would fly in the F-22 by this December, as Congressional test requirements mandate. The 40-day strike means that things will be close.
“At this point, it is high risk that we will actually have Block 3 in an airplane by the end of December,” Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters told the Senate Appropriations Committee in March.
Raptor flight testing of Block 3 is one of 10 criteria that the Air Force must meet for a Low-Rate Initial Production decision on the F-22 to be made by the end of the year. Service testers said they will try to overcome the effects of the Boeing strike. Peters told senators he thinks proceeding with LRIP is still “appropriate,” even if the avionics software is tested only in the lab and on the 757 flying test bed.
Some 98 percent of avionics software bugs are typically discovered prior to operational flight testing, said Peters.
Lewis, however, continues to insist that Block 3 must take to the air in an F-22 airframe before the program can proceed into production.
Lewis’s panel on May 11 approved full $4 billion funding for the F-22-including production funds for 10 fighters. However, its bill pointedly restates that no funds may be released unless the F-22 meets all testing requirements.
Fatigue testing may also be a particular problem area for the Raptor. The Pentagon’s top testing official, Philip E. Coyle III, says the program may be unable to complete 40 percent of fatigue testing by the end of the year-another requirement for the LRIP decision.
The Air Force does not agree that fatigue tests will be a problem-and continues to vigorously defend the F-22 program. The facts will out, say Air Force officials, and the facts indicate that the F-22 should forge ahead.
The decision whether to proceed into production with the Raptor should be reached as “a result of a vigorous debate where we stand on our merits, and if our arguments prevail we get it sooner. If we can’t convince them, then we get what we deserve; we get it later,” said Gen. John P. Jumper, commander of Air Combat Command, in mid-April.
19 Killed in V-22 Osprey Crash
In one of the worst accidents in the history of Marine Corps aviation and one of the deadliest military crashes of the decade, 19 people were killed April 8 when a Marine V-22 Osprey tiltrotor plunged nose-first into a concrete landing pad near Tucson, Ariz.
Marine officials denied reports that there had been a fire or explosion aboard the airplane before the crash, but they said that the $44 million aircraft fell so hard it blew the air cushion out from beneath another Osprey landing nearby, causing that airplane to drop hard and roll 150 feet.
The airplane’s engines were in the helicopter, or vertical, position when it crashed, said investigators.
The accident marked the second fatal incident in the Osprey’s test history. In 1992, seven people were killed when an engine fire caused a V-22 to fall into the Potomac River near Quantico, Va. A year earlier, a V-22 crashed at a Boeing test facility in Delaware, but no one was killed.
Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, head of Marine aviation, said the disaster should not affect plans to purchase 360 V-22s as a replacement for aging CH-46 helicopters. The Air Force plans to buy 50 V-22s; the Navy, 48.
“Analysis of the data retrieved from the crash, … coupled with comprehensive engineering investigations to date, have found no mechanical or software failures,” said McCorkle in a Pentagon briefing May 9.
“The data shows that the mishap aircraft was in a high rate of descent at a relatively forward low air speed,” he said. “These characteristics can lead to a condition known as power settling.” Basically, the aircraft would have lost lift on its rotor system. It’s a condition that is common to all helicopter flight, added McCorkle.
He then emphasized, “We have found no structural or design flaws that would preclude safe flight operations and maintain complete faith in the safety of the V-22.”
The doomed flight was part of the aircraft’s operational evaluation, in which realistic exercises test notional tactics. The airplane was full of Marine passengers because the tactics being tested involved evacuation of a crowded and threatened US embassy.
Meanwhile, one of the Osprey’s most enthusiastic Congressional boosters said the crash might signal trouble for the program.
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a former Marine and ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense spending subpanel, said that the Marines have virtually no other option than the V-22 to replace their 40-year-old CH-46s.
“We got a big time problem here if there’s something wrong with it,” said Murtha in an April 11 interview with Defense Daily. “We have to see.”
Black Hawk helicopters might conceivably replace the V-22 in Marine plans, but UH-60s are slower and carry less than the Osprey, said Murtha.
The V-22 has had plenty of testing, so that should not be the problem, said the Pennsylvania Democrat. He added that he has always been concerned about the airplane’s transition mode, when it changes from forward aircraft flight to helicopter flight.
“That always worried me. There’s a brief period when the wings turn [and] they lose some lift,” said Murtha.
The aircraft involved in the accident had flown for more than 135 hours since January, according to Marine records. The V-22 program had accumulated about 2,400 hours since the 1992 fatal crash.
Battle of the Pentagon Bus Station
It’s the Washington area’s largest bus-to-subway transfer point-but the Department of Defense says it is just too close to the Pentagon, reports The Washington Post. For security reasons, the US military plans to relocate the D.C. Metro system’s Pentagon bus station stop 300 feet to the east of its present building-side location.>
Metro officials aren’t happy that their customers will now have a five-minute walk to board buses. They want the Pentagon to fund a $35 million replacement bus plaza, sized to allow addition of bus lines if ridership grows in the future and to include a climate-controlled waiting area and restrooms.
The Pentagon says it will only replicate today’s rectangular bus drop-off plaza, which is of 1977 vintage.
The impetus for the move is the increasing realization that Washington’s federal infrastructure is not as hardened against terrorist attack as it could be. From a security official’s point of view, relocating the Pentagon bus shelter is an obvious move.
The stop handles 95 bus routes and some 34,000 commuter trips a day. Some 30 percent of passengers who use the bussubway node are bound for the Pentagon itself. Seventy percent transit the area and head elsewhere.
“With the volume of people going through there, it’s a very nice area for a target,” said Army Maj. Kelly Butler, a Pentagon official working the issue.
The military also plans to close an escalator that leads from the Metro subway directly to the Pentagon itself. The escalator is a “threat delivery tube,” said Butler.
Construction of the new plaza is to be finished by 2002, said officials.
CNN, NPR Give Boot to Military Interns
Cable News Network and National Public Radio have given the boot to interns from US Army Psychological Operations units.
According to news reports, top executives say they were chagrined to learn that their organizations were accepting help from such an untraditional source. After the PSYOP presence was made public in European reports, it was quickly ended.
The military duties of PSYOP units include the production of TV and radio material for use in advancing US policy abroad and military goals in particular operations. Military officials were pleased with the PSYOP internships at CNN and NPR, feeling that they were getting good professional training in return for providing some entry-level labor.
CNN accepted five PSYOP interns, beginning in June 1999. NPR had taken in three interns, who worked for varying periods beginning in September 1998.
News officials said the internship programs were approved by human relations personnel, without the knowledge of top executives. But the Army says the PSYOP personnel did nothing to hide their professional origin, and their presence must have been known to news department managers.
Kremlin Ratifies START II-Finally
After years of delay, Russia’s lower house of parliament approved the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty April 14. The move handed Russia’s newly elected president, Vladimir V. Putin, his first big legislative victory-and gave him the opportunity to renew warnings that he will resist any attempt by the United States to deploy or even develop anti-missile defenses.
After the vote, Putin said that while he wanted a constructive relationship with the West he also wished to make it clear that Russia’s implementation of START II depends on Washington’s continued adherence to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
If the US unilaterally withdraws from the ABM pact-a move some lawmakers have called for-Russia will withdraw not only from the START II treaty, but from the whole system of treaties on the limitation and control of strategic and conventional weapons, Putin said in an appearance before Parliament.
The START II treaty was originally signed seven years ago by President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The US Senate ratified it in 1996.
Under its terms both parties agree that they will reduce their strategic warheads to no more than 3,500. The US currently has around 7,700 long-range nuclear weapons, according to US government figures. Russia has approximately 6,400.
Perhaps more importantly, the treaty also bans multiple-warhead land-based missiles, such as Russia’s SS-18 and the US’s 10-warhead MX. These weapons are so fearsome–and so easy to locate–that they would be tempting targets in a pre-emptive nuclear strike. That makes their existence potentially destabilizing, in the arcane theology of nuclear deterrence.
Russia’s upper house of Parliament must still pass muster on the treaty, but its political makeup makes approval a forgone conclusion, say analysts. Final passage would clear the way for Russia and the US to perhaps sign a START III pact, codifying even deeper cuts in strategic weaponry.
Russia wants START III to drive stockpiles down into the 1,500 range. US strategists have resisted such drastic reductions and say the US needs 2,000 to 2,500 warheads to maintain national security capability.
US and Russian negotiators held a two-day preliminary START III negotiating session in Geneva on April 17 and 18.
The ABM Treaty remains a complicating factor in the renewed drive for nuclear weapons pacts. The Clinton Administration has been attempting to convince Moscow that the ABM pact should be amended to allow for construction of limited defenses capable of handling a strike by North Korea or other rogue states.
Russian officials have been immune to American blandishments on missile defense, believing that it would simply create a whole new category of high-tech defense weaponry in which US money and science would dominate.
The Clinton Administration, for its part, chose to ignore the ABM complication and simply welcome the progress on START II.
“This vote is indeed a historic step which will help improve security for all of us,” said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
But some members of Congress warned that Russia’s rhetoric on ABM means that trouble lies ahead.
“We’re not going to be blackmailed into leaving the American people exposed,” said a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.
One potential complication is the fact that the US Senate will get a chance to revisit its START II vote. Russian ratification took so long that President Clinton and President Yeltsin signed new protocols on the treaty in 1997.
One of the protocols extends the deadline for implementation of START II to 2007. The other, potentially more controversial, is intended to clarify what counts as a long-range missile and what counts as a short-range tactical weapon. This bears on the ABM Treaty-and thus some senators may be reluctant to approve the protocols because their vote would be an implicit recognition of the durability of the anti-missile pact.
“Name, Rank, and Social Security Number” Is Now a Problem
People in the armed forces used to have actual serial numbers. That changed, however, on July 1, 1969. Thereafter, military people used their Social Security account numbers instead. When thus used, they were often called “service numbers.”
There were jokes about giving an enemy captor your “name, rank, and Social Security Number,” but the new way of things soon became routine.
Now, in the age of the Internet, the 1969 innovation is causing problems. In December, Thomas Ricks of The Wall Street Journal reported that an Oil City, Pa., “privacy advocate” had posted Social Security Numbers of 4,000 senior military officers, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his Web site. He got the data from the Congressional Record, which published lists of names and “service numbers” when promotion of the officers was confirmed.
Names and Social Security Numbers were soon used in some 700 fraudulent credit card applications. Among the victims was Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The military officers did not have to pay the charges run up in their names, of course, but cleaning up their credit ratings and other affairs was-to put it mildly-an inconvenience.
The operator of the Web site refused to remove the information, and according to William M. Arkin, the online “Dot.Mil” columnist for The Washington Post, the US attorney has declined to take legal action because publication in the Congressional Record put the names and numbers in the public domain.
Arkin adds that “captured American military personnel are required to disclose their SSNs under the Code of Conduct and the Geneva Convention. But now, according to the Marine Corps judge advocate general’s office, ‘With the advent of the information age, the disclosure of a service member’s SSN to a captor presents a new and unforseen set of security concerns.’ Using the Internet, enemies might be able to access a prisoner’s financial, family, and insurance records. ‘This information can be used by our enemies to attempt to break a [service member’s] resistance to enemy interrogations,’ the Marine lawyers wrote in a memo in February.”
Ironically, Arkin notes, the Social Security Number–which service members are required to give to the enemy upon capture–is otherwise protected by the Privacy Act.
- South African search and rescue divers on March 25 recovered the body of Amn. Jeffrey Costa from the Lisbon River. Costa, of the 352nd Special Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, UK, disappeared while swimming March 24. His unit was in South Africa participating in flood relief missions in neighboring Mozambique.
- The 493rd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, UK, was awarded the 1999 Hughes Trophy. It marks the second time in the last three years that the unit has won the award, which goes to the best air-to-air superiority fighter squadron in the Air Force.
- “EAF Online” now offers USAF personnel deploying as part of an Aerospace Expeditionary Force a cybergateway for obtaining information needed to make sure they are fully prepared on arrival in a theater. The address is http://aefcenter.acc. af.mil/eafonline and is available only via military computers.
- A sergeant from the 16th Operations Support Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., was awarded the 1999 Brig. Gen. Sarah P. Wells Outstanding Medical Technician of the year award in the senior noncommissioned officer category. MSgt. Jerry Maynard is a 17-year veteran who has served in the medical field his entire career.
- Holloman AFB, N.M., officially opened its new German Air Force Flying Training Center on March 31. The new center marks an expansion of the tactical training center for German forces. By 2001 the flying center should be home to 750 German military personnel and 42 Tornado aircraft.
- Boeing has developed a new paint that will increase the stealthiness of the new F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter and thus reduce its vulnerability to infrared threats, company officials announced March 22. The new paint which was applied this spring to Raptor 02 at Edwards AFB, Calif., replaces conventional topcoats and still preserves environmental requirements.
- Rudy de Leon on March 31 was sworn in as the 27th deputy secretary of defense. He previously held the post of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. His boss, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, administered the oath of office.
- On April 3, President Clinton nominated Adm. Vernon E. Clark to be the next Chief of Naval Operations and thus replace Adm. Jay L. Johnson as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Clark is currently commander in chief of the US Atlantic Fleet, headquartered at Norfolk, Va.
- The Navy announced March 31 that the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet has officially met all Milestone 3 criteria-thereby moving the program one step closer to a full-rate production decision.
- Maj. Gen. Claude M. Bolton Jr., Air Force program executive officer for fighters and bombers, recently presented Vice President Al Gore’s Hammer Award to the F-117 System Program Office. The Hammer Award is sponsored by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, which is chaired by Gore, and honors those who have dramatically improved governmental processes.
- For the second straight year, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Randolph AFB, Texas, was named best in the world for customer satisfaction. AAFES at Eglin AFB, Fla., was also named best in customer service.
- Osan AB, South Korea, was named winner of the 44th annual Hennessy Trophy for best Air Force dining facilities, multiple facilities category. Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, won the Hennessy in the single category.
- Crews at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., launched a Boeing Delta II rocket carrying the IMAGE spacecraft March 25. The Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration satellite is the first dedicated to imaging Earth’s magnetosphere.
- An Air Force KC-135 pilot has been named one of the 10 recipients of the Good Housekeeping Award for Women in Government for 2000. Lt. Col. Kimberly D. Olson, currently a National War College student in Washington, D.C., and formerly commander of the 96th Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., is the first Department of Defense recipient in the history of the award.