The Senate on June 27 confirmed Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart to be the first leader of the Pentagon’s new homeland defense unified combatant command, US Northern Command.
Eberhart, who is currently commander in chief of US Space Command and NORAD, will relinquish only one of those positions on Oct. 1 when NORTHCOM stands up. As head of the new command, he will retain only his NORAD position.
Under changes to the Unified Command Plan that take effect Oct. 1, NORAD, the US-Canadian binational command charged with air defense of North America, will be aligned with NORTHCOM. NORAD is headquartered at Peterson AFB, Colo.
The day before Eberhart’s confirmation, DOD announced plans to merge US Space Command, currently housed at Peterson, with US Strategic Command at Offutt AFB, Neb. (See “Unified Command Plan Change To Merge SPACECOM and STRATCOM,” p. 11.) Current plans call for placing the new entity, reportedly to carry the Strategic Command moniker, at Offutt and NORTHCOM at Peterson.
Senior Air Force officials met with F-22 prime contractor Lockheed Martin at Edwards AFB, Calif., the second week in July to discuss the pace of F-22 flight testing.
USAF officials attending the review included Air Force Secretary James G. Roche, Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, USAF acquisition principals Marvin R. Sambur and Darleen A. Druyun, as well as Air Force Materiel Command head Gen. Lester L. Lyles.
Lyles said the F-22 flight-test program is not where the service thought it should be. “We wanted to understand what the impediments are and work together on a game plan to remove any constraints.”
The F-22 program director, Brig. Gen. William J. Jabour, told reporters in late May that the test program is unlikely to make its scheduled start date of April 2003 for dedicated initial operational test and evaluation. He projected a six-month slip.
The General Accounting Office has projected the possibility the program may slip at least 11 months.
As a result of the review, Lyles said USAF leadership gave Maj. Gen. Wilbert D. Pearson Jr., the Air Force Flight Test Center commander, “even more responsibility to look at priorities for test activities and support, to make key decisions and to support the F-22 test force leadership.”
USAF decided it would stand by its current Aerospace Expeditionary Force deployment cycle: five pairs in a 15-month cycle, with most personnel deployed for 90 days.
In a late June announcement, the Air Force said that to keep up with current operational demands, it would have to incorporate into the existing 10 AEFs the resources it had held back for surprise requirements.
Service leaders decided to fold the resources of the so-called 911 or on-call wings into the current AEF buckets of capability.
USAF Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper said the Air Staff is attempting to develop both short- and long-term solutions to the problem.
“AEF is not a hobby–it’s the system,” he said. (See additional coverage of this issue in “Building Aerospace Expeditionary Forces for the Long Haul,” p. 14.)
The pace of USAF’s expeditionary deployments–more 90-day tours–may force the Reserves into additional mobilizations, said an Air Force Reserve Command official.
It is AFRC policy to seek volunteers to fill its AEF commitments, which prior to last year’s Sept. 11 attacks were normally only two-week tours, said Tony Tassone, AFRC’s AEF Cell director.
“However, if the number of 90-day tours, with no intermediate rotation, remains at the present level, we will not have enough volunteers to meet the taskings.”
He said if AFRC maintains its current level of commitments for AEF Cycle 3 (March 1, 2002-May 31, 2003), “it will provide more than 30,000 volunteers in addition to its approximately 13,000 mobilized Reservists.”
The cycle includes 800 taskings for two-week tours but some 1,500 that require 90-day commitments.
Tallone said if the number of 90-day tours remains at the present level, “AFRC will be forced to resort to mobilization to meet its requirements.”
“This is not something AFRC will recommend, but that decision will be made by the gaining major commands if they need Reserve participation,” he said.
Planning has already started for the next AEF cycle, which will begin in June 2003. For that, Tallone said AFRC plans to offer capabilities using volunteers in 15-day rotations.
The Air Force released all but three officer and eight enlisted career fields from its Stop-Loss restrictions in late June. The measure applies to active duty and reservists.
USAF implemented blanket Stop-Loss measures, prohibiting all active duty and reserve members from either separating or retiring, following the September 2001 terrorist attacks. It released a few members from those restrictions in January and a few more in April.
The third release encompasses most career fields and is in line with USAF’s exit plan, which called for a gradual drawdown in the number of specialties affected, said Lt. Col. Jan Middleton at the Pentagon.
The officers still prohibited from separating or retiring are those serving as special operations pilots and navigators or in security forces.
The enlisted fields still restricted are: flight engineer, airfield management, operations resource management, air traffic control, intelligence operations, pararescue, fuels, and security forces.
In the post-Sept. 11 world, the Air Force no longer experiences surge operations. Instead it faces a “new, higher standard of operations tempo,” said USAF Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper.
“While our operational rhythm will fluctuate with world events, it is unlikely we will return to a pre-September level,” he said in a July 10 written statement.
Jumper emphasized USAF’s reliance on the Aerospace Expeditionary Force to meet the new optempo. He said the Air Force must properly size the deployment units that make up the AEFs. Expanding the number of members who participate in worldwide commitments, Jumper said, will help decrease the demand on those “currently carrying more than their share of our deployment burden.”
Expansion of the deployment pool, said Jumper, “will mesh with our ‘burn-down’ plan to further reduce the impact of Stop-Loss and to facilitate the demobilization of our Guard and Reserve professionals.”
Company officials announced July 1 a merger agreement in which Northrop Grumman will buy TRW for $7.8 billion in stock.
The move, if approved by DOD and the Justice Department, could make Northrop Grumman the nation’s second largest defense contractor.
After months of wrangling during which TRW turned down two previous Northrop Grumman offers, Northrop overcame last minute bids from BAE Systems, Raytheon, and General Dynamics–all pursuing TRW’s government satellite business.
Lockheed Martin, the top defense contractor, is protesting the Northrop/TRW deal, saying there is not enough government satellite business to host another major player.
In 1998, Lockheed Martin had attempted to acquire the struggling Northrop Grumman. That merger was nixed by the Pentagon.
Since then Northrop rebounded, purchasing 10 companies, doubling its revenue. Over the past decade, the company has moved from primarily a producer of manned warplanes, such as the B-2 bomber, to shipbuilding, electronics, information technology, and unmanned aircraft.
Northrop projects the new company would have annual revenues of more than $26 billion and 123,000 employees.
Goodrich announced June 18 it planned to acquire TRW’s Aeronautical Systems businesses for $1.5 billion in cash.
The purchase would expand Goodrich’s military and commercial aerospace systems business to include flight controls, cargo systems, engine control systems, power and utility systems, and missile actuation.
The buyout is subject to approval by US and European regulatory agencies. It is not affected by Northrop Grumman’s proposed acquisition of TRW.
The United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 July 12 to make US forces engaged in UN peacekeeping missions exempt for one year from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
The Bush Administration had threatened to veto such operations unless the UN granted US forces permanent immunity from the court. The Administration backed off that demand earlier in the week.
The court officially came into existence on July 1. A 1998 treaty establishing the court was signed by 179 countries, but only 76 have ratified it.
President Clinton signed, but Congress had not ratified the treaty. President Bush “unsigned” it. Other countries that have not ratified the treaty include China and Russia.
Pentagon officials said they are committed to keeping US forces engaged in UN peacekeeping operations, such as the one in Bosnia. They said the UN should grant peacekeepers immunity.
Capt. Robert I. Lopez, 32, was killed June 27 when the A-10 Thunderbolt II he was flying crashed near the French Polygone Range on the French-German border.
Lopez was with the 81st Fighter Squadron, stationed at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. He was flying a tactical leadership program training mission at the time of the accident, said officials.
A board of USAF officials will investigate.
Nine months after the terrorist-hijacked airliner slammed into the Pentagon, killing 184 people, officials set a dedication capsule in place in the restored west wall.
The capsule, which officials said is not meant to be opened, contains items such as handmade cards and letters from schoolchildren, medallions from Pentagon leaders, patches from local firefighters and police, and a plaque listing the names of the 184.
It is a means to remember and memorialize the victims and recognize the rebuilding effort, said an official.
The niche that holds the capsule was capped with a block of limestone, one of the stones originally installed 60 years ago. Scorched by fire in the attack, the block had been retrieved from the ruins. It is inscribed with the date of the attack.
Accident investigation board results released June 17 found that pilot error caused an F-16 to crash near Spangdahlem AB, Germany, March 20.
The board said that the pilot, Capt. Luke A. Johnson, failed to initiate missed-approach procedures as directed by the air traffic controller.
Johnson was killed when his F-16 crashed in a wooded area about two miles from the runway. He was on final approach following a night tactical-intercept training mission.
He was with the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem.
Defense Department officials announced a design competition for a memorial to honor those killed in the Sept. 11 Pentagon terrorist attack.
The competition closes Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. EDT.
The location for the planned memorial is a two-acre area near where the hijacked airliner hit the Pentagon. The Army Corps of Engineers worked with family members of victims to choose the site.
Competition rules are posted on the Web at http://pentagonmemorial. nab.usace.army.mil. Entrants may also write to receive the rules: US Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, Public Affairs Office, PO Box 1715, Baltimore, MD 21203.
The competition calls for an artistic idea, not final blueprints. A panel of six sculptors, architects, and landscape architects will judge the entries.
Officials expect to dedicate the memorial by Sept. 11, 2003.
The Air Force will no longer require its enlisted members who want to serve as first sergeants to cross-train from their current career fields. The change takes effect Oct. 1.
USAF initiated the change following a 15-month review, which found that the current system failed to meet service needs. Under the old rules, becoming a first sergeant of a unit meant an individual had to leave his primary career field permanently.
“We have 1,200 active duty first sergeant positions, and we are currently short 120 people,” said SMSgt. Michael Gilbert, first sergeant career field manager.
Under the new rules, the job of first sergeant will be a special duty assignment. After a tour of three years, the individual would return to his functional specialty.
Gilbert said that a major goal of the change is to attract more senior enlisted members, some of whom may not have wanted to leave their career field permanently. “The program will help us deliberately develop some of the top enlisted leaders we will need in the future,” he said.
Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche authorized creation of the Air Force Campaign Medal to recognize significant direct contributions to wartime operations from outside the geographic area of operations.
It is meant to compensate for the DOD campaign medal, which is based on geography to define an area of combat operations.
“In light of the expeditionary aerospace force environment and the transformation in the way the Air Force carries out its missions today, such criteria doesn’t allow us to appropriately recognize our people who contribute directly and significantly to the success of wartime campaigns from outside the area of combat operations,” said Roche.
Roche also announced creation of two new Air Force awards.
The Gallant Unit Citation will recognize units for their significant combat heroism but at a level below that currently required for the Presidential Unit Citation.
The Meritorious Unit Award will honor units for outstanding achievement in direct support of combat operations.
Construction for a major expansion of the Air Force Museum began to take shape earlier this summer. The $16.6 million addition to the Dayton, Ohio, facility is expected to be completed in time for next spring’s centennial of flight celebration, according to officials.
The Air Force Museum Foundation is funding the expansion, which includes as its centerpiece a 200,000-square-foot third building. Follow-on phases will add a hall of missiles, a space gallery, and an education center.
Museum officials said the new building will house aircraft and exhibits from the Cold War to present day. They plan a massive movement of display aircraft this fall to realign the flow of exhibits and aircraft into a more chronological format. They said the museum will remain open during construction and movement of displays, although some areas may be temporarily closed.
The new building will be called the Eugene W. Kettering Gallery to honor the first head of the foundation board of trustees.
The Senate tacked an amendment onto its Fiscal 2003 defense authorization bill that requires written reports every three months on measures taken to locate a Navy pilot shot down during the Gulf War.
Senators unanimously agreed the Bush Administration should do more to determine the fate of Lt. Cmdr. Michael S. Speicher.
Iraq has said it has no information about Speicher, but it formally offered earlier this year to allow a US team to investigate. Administration officials have said they plan to determine Speicher’s true status, but critics say the Pentagon is dragging its feet.
The Pentagon initially reported the Navy pilot was killed in 1991 when his F-18 was shot down. However, last year, the Navy changed his status to missing in action, based on new information.
Earlier this year, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asking him to change Speicher’s classification once again, this time to prisoner of war, based on intelligence reports that he might still be alive. Roberts had been instrumental in getting the pilot’s status changed last year.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said defense officials told him July 10 that Secretary of State Colin Powell likely will be responding to a three-month-old offer from Baghdad via a diplomatic note to be sent to Iraq through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Nelson said, “We need to be skeptical of anything Iraq offers, but confirming whether they have new information about Commander Speicher is the right thing to do.”
Nelson and Roberts were chief sponsors of the budget amendment.
Two Chinese fighters flew within 150 feet of a US Navy P-3 reconnaissance aircraft June 24, reported the Washington Times.
This was the first incident since a collision last year between a Navy EP-3 and a Chinese F-8. (See “The Last Flight of Wang Wei,” July 2001, p. 51.)
In the June encounter, which occurred in international airspace near the Chinese coast north of Taiwan, two F-7 interceptors flew parallel to the P-3. They flew very close for several minutes.
One official called the intercept troubling. Another said intercepts since last year’s collision are being handled with more professionalism by the Chinese. The June event was described as nonthreatening.
It took place as Peter W. Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, was meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing. Rodman was there to explore a resumption of military-to-military exchanges.
Defense officials have been pondering the right mix of active and reserve forces for some time, but the issue has been under sharper scrutiny lately with the heavy use of reserves in the war on terror.
The Defense Planning Guidance for 2004 has a requirement to study creation of a third force as a means to bridge the gap between active and reserve personnel.
Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, the new chief of the Army Reserve, revealed the initiative in a meeting with reporters in late June.
Helmly said the concept is to create a force that would be part-time, like present reserves, but would agree to deploy for a longer block of time, perhaps six months every two years. In return, the third-force members might receive more benefits and higher pay than typical reservists.
|“CINC” Is Out, “Combatant Commander” Is In
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has clarified the Pentagon’s use of the term Commander in Chief, or CINC.
The title historically has been applied to the heads of the unified commands. Today, there are nine: US Central Command, US European Command, US Joint Forces Command, US Pacific Command, US Southern Command, US Space Command, US Special Operations Command, US Strategic Command, and US Transportation Command.
It also, of course, is the title conferred by the Constitution upon the President, who is Commander in Chief of the armed forces.
Rumsfeld decreed that the recent update to the Unified Command Plan would change the title of both functional and geographic heads from CINC to combatant commander. The official title will be commander, said DOD public affairs.
The change in title takes effect Oct. 1, along with
|Unified Command Plan Change To Merge SPACECOM and STRATCOM
The Pentagon will merge US Space Command with US Strategic Command on Oct. 1. The headquarters for the new unified combatant command, reportedly to be named Strategic Command, will reside in Nebraska.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced the much anticipated merger June 26.
STRATCOM, which is headquartered at Offutt AFB, Neb., controls US nuclear forces–ICBMs, nuclear submarines, and nuclear-equipped bombers. SPACECOM, with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., controls military space operations, information operations, computer network operations, and space campaign planning.
Both commands are charged with countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Rumsfeld said the missions of the two commands “have evolved to the point where merging the two into a single entity will eliminate redundancies in the command structure and streamline the decision-making process.”
The new command, he said, will oversee “early warning of and defense against missile attack as well as long-range conventional attacks.” It will also be responsible for information operations.
Pentagon officials had confirmed the merger was under study in April when they announced other major changes to the Unified Command Plan. Those changes included creation of a new unified command, US Northern Command, to oversee homeland security.
This is not the first time DOD has sought to merge STRATCOM and SPACECOM. In 1993 the Pentagon made a concerted effort to eliminate US Space Command and transfer its mission to Strategic Command. The move failed, though, largely because of Canadian opposition.
Canada objected to having NORAD, the US-Canada binational air defense command, aligned with the command charged with US nuclear offensive operations. At the time, NORAD was aligned with SPACECOM, whose Commander in Chief also served as head of NORAD.
That objection was removed in April when Rumsfeld announced the Pentagon would align NORAD with US Northern Command. NORAD will still rely on missile warning data it receives from SPACECOM, but it will not share commanders.
The current head of SPACECOM, Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, has already received Senate confirmation as the first commander for NORTHCOM. (See “Eberhart To Head NORTHCOM,” p. 10.)
Rumsfeld also set the stage for the merger by discussing his plans with Members of Congress from Nebraska and Colorado before the official announcement.
Nebraska lawmakers see the move as one that will solidify a long-standing military presence in that state, insulating Offutt in any future round of base closures. Indications are that the new Nebraska command would also oversee the Administration’s proposed national missile defense system.
Although Colorado loses SPACECOM’s headquarters function and its four-star general, the state will retain its central role in military space activities as host to Air Force Space Command, which has its headquarters at Peterson. The state already gained a new four-star general in April when the Pentagon separated command of AFSPC from SPACECOM and Congress authorized the Air Force an additional four-star billet. Peterson has also been designated to host NORTHCOM.
Neither state stands to gain or lose a great number of personnel as a result of the merger. SPACECOM has about 900 military and civilian personnel, while STRATCOM has 1,500. Officials said only a small number of personnel would transfer from Peterson to Offutt.
Proponents of the merger say it will increase the military’s ability to respond swiftly to unexpected attacks and offer a wider range of strategic options–nuclear and non-nuclear. They say the new command will have a truly global perspective.
The move allowed Rumsfeld to create the new homeland defense command, yet he can still limit the overall number of combatant commanders to nine. Additionally, it allowed him to combine two commands which, separately, appeared to have limited roles.
Some critics claim, though, that the merger will actually delay the emergence of a space warfighting doctrine. They say Rumsfeld has abandoned his desire to see advanced space technologies integrated throughout the military at the tactical level.
Others say the two cultures represented are not likely to mesh well and question how the new command will support NORAD on domestic defense issues.
Fine-tuning of the unified commands may not end here. Defense officials also have expressed an interest in merging US Southern Command with NORTHCOM.
However, any decision in that arena will have to wait at least for a year or so, according to USAF Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“We have made some very, very big changes in the Unified Command Plan,” said Myers. “We’re thinking we probably ought to let this settle out for a little bit before we tackle some more big issues.”
|Pilots Blamed in Canadian Deaths
The coalition investigation board reviewing the April 17 friendly fire incident near Kandahar, Afghanistan, that left four Canadian soldiers dead and eight others injured found that two USAF F-16 pilots were at fault.
The pilots failed “to exercise appropriate flight discipline, which resulted in a violation of the rules of engagement and an inappropriate use of lethal force,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, Central Command deputy commander, told reporters June 28.
He said the board also determined that failings within the pilots’ immediate command structures were contributing factors.
The coalition board was co-chaired by Canadian Brig. Gen. Marc Dumais and USAF Brig. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant, a veteran F-16 pilot.
A separate Canadian board also blamed the two pilots. However, in findings it released June 28, the Canadian board said the two pilots were not aware of a planned coalition live-fire exercise.
When asked about that conclusion, DeLong said he could not talk about the issue “because that’s still part of an ongoing investigation.” He added, “I can say that all pilots are briefed prior to every mission. … They’re briefed on the areas they fly in. And I’ll just leave it like that.”
However, the Washington Times reported July 18 that, just after the bomb struck, an Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft air controller told the pilot, “You’re cleared. Self-defense.”
The Times quoted what it said was a transcript of the actual communication.
“Can you confirm they were shooting us?” one of the pilot’s asked the AWACS. The controller responded, “You’re cleared. Self-defense.”
This fact was not disclosed by US Central Command in June when it briefed reporters on the results of the investigation.
Charles Gittens, a defense attorney for one pilot, said that the transcript shows a command failure–that “neither the aircrew nor the AWACS were briefed about [the Canadians]” exercising in the area.
According to both boards, the Canadian soldiers were participating in nighttime live-fire training at the Tarnak Farms Range, which had formerly been used by al Qaeda forces for training. The two F-16s were returning from a mission when the flight lead noticed what he described as fireworks. He believed it to be surface-to-air fire (SAFIRE) and asked permission from an AWACS aircraft to pinpoint the exact coordinates.
The wingman asked for approval to fire his 20 mm cannon. The AWACS told him to stand by. Later, the AWACS asked for additional information on the SAFIRE, again telling him to hold fire. The wingman relayed the additional information and, at the same time, told the AWACS he was rolling-in in self-defense. The wingman released a 500-pound laser guided bomb. The bomb hit a Canadian firing position.
The Canadian board also revealed that the Canadian soldiers were firing a range of weapons, from personal side arms up to and including shoulder-fired anti-tank munitions. “Though visible from the air, the armament being employed was of no threat to the aircraft at their transit altitude,” it said.
Press reports identified the F-16 pilots as members of the Air National Guard. Both pilots were made available to each board.
DeLong said the investigation reports were turned over to the Air Force “for disciplinary action as may be appropriate.” The coalition board made disciplinary recommendations, but those were not revealed.
|Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., 1912-2002
Gen. Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr., leader of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and the first African American general in the Air Force, died July 4 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was 89 and had Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time he entered West Point, Davis was the son of one of only two black combat officers in the Army. The younger Davis persevered through four years at the US Military Academy, where no cadet spoke to him other than on official business, and graduated 35th in his class in 1936. He wanted to fly, but segregation was a barrier. There were no black flying units in the air service.
He commanded a black service company at Ft. Benning, Ga., and then taught military science at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. During this time, as a re-election initiative, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army to create a black flying unit.
Davis, as the only living black West Point graduate, was selected to lead the unit. In May 1941 he entered advanced flying training at nearby Tuskegee Army Air Base, receiving his pilot wings in March 1942.
He led the 99th Pursuit Squadron from Tuskegee to North Africa in April 1943 and later to Sicily. After three months in combat, Davis was called to Washington to defend the 99th against charges that black pilots did not have the proper reflexes to be fighter pilots. Davis’s testimony saved the 99th and the other black flying units being formed.
He took charge of the 332nd Fighter Group, leading it to Italy in January 1944. Throughout the war, the Tuskegee Airmen established a dazzling record of victories against superior German aircraft. When they flew escort duty, not one bomber they escorted on some 200 missions was lost to an enemy fighter.
In 1946, as commander at Lockbourne AAB, Ohio, Davis’s professionalism won over the white civil servants working for him there. His successes at Lockbourne and with the 332nd helped set the stage for racial integration within the newly formed US Air Force.
Historian Alan Gropman said that Davis performed so well and led so effectively that the arguments used to prop up segregation were fatally undermined. (See “Benjamin Davis, American,” August 1997, p. 70.) In 1949, the Air Force became the first US armed service to integrate racially.
Davis became the first black officer to attend a war college. He went on to a key Pentagon assignment and then commanded the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing in the Korean War. From there, he went to Far East Air Forces as director of operations and training, in which post he was promoted to brigadier general. His next posting called for him to create from scratch a defensive air force for Taiwan.
He continued to serve in key operational positions in Europe, the Pentagon, and Asia, rising to lieutenant general. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 as deputy commander in chief of US Strike Command.
Davis continued in public service. He became director of public safety for Cleveland, Ohio, and later served as head of the newly formed federal sky marshal program and as an assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation.
In December 1998, Davis was awarded a fourth star in an exceedingly rare post-retirement promotion. He was only the third Air Force pioneer to receive such an honor. The other two were Ira C. Eaker and Jimmy Doolittle.
|The Defense Department Budget Bills at Mid-Year
Both Houses of Congress this summer passed authorization bills that essentially mirror the Bush Administration’s $396.8 billion Fiscal 2003 national defense budget request. (National defense includes funding for DOD and defense-related activities in the Department of Energy and several other agencies.)
Bush proposed the largest one-year boost in defense spending in two decades. It marked a real, after-inflation increase of more than $41 billion.
The House version of the defense authorization legislation outlines a spending plan that is about $10 billion less than the Bush request because it intends to handle funding for future war-on-terror activities in a separate bill.
The Senate version would authorize $393.4 billion.
At issue during much of the debate in the Senate was $7.8 billion for the Administration’s missile defense system. Democrats wanted to cut $814 million from missile defense and shift it to shipbuilding and heightened security at nuclear facilities.
Republicans pressed the President’s case and won a compromise that would allow Bush to shift the amount cut from savings in other programs. Senators recommended that any savings go toward the war on terror, but they left the door open for Bush to return $814 million to missile defense.
The House bill had included about $15 million more than the President’s request for the missile defense system. With the Senate’s nod to the Administration, the final version produced by House and Senate conferees this month is almost certain to contain at least the figure requested originally by the President.
Another contentious issue–one that greatly concerns Air Force employees at air logistics centers–is the amount of work DOD can shift from its own depot workforce to contractors. In a 50-49 vote, Senate Republicans and two Democrats tabled an amendment from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) that would have made it more difficult for DOD to contract out work currently done by federal civilian employees.
The Administration also won the battle over the $11 billion Crusader cannon. Despite a strong effort by senior Republicans from Oklahoma, where the Crusader would have been assembled, the Senate gave Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approval to kill the program. The House authorizers left the door open but requested an analysis of alternatives. (The House defense appropriations bill, passed in late June, cut funding altogether.)
Both the House and Senate provided for a 4.1 percent military pay raise across the board, with up to 6.5 percent for certain grades.
Both Houses also increased the request for improvements to living and working facilities. The House authorized an additional $425 million, the Senate about $640 million.
The House bill would raise active duty end strength about 12,652 troops overall–10,352 more than the Administration request.
Under the Administration budget, the Air Force would have gained 200 positions. The House proposed boosting USAF by 1,995.
Although the Senate Armed Services Committee recommended staying with the Administration’s personnel numbers, the full Senate passed an amendment by Sens. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would permit the military services to raise their manpower ceilings by 12,000. Unlike the House version, the amendment did not propose a way to actually fund the increase.
The issue of concurrent receipt, which has pitted veterans groups against the Bush Administration, got a limited boost. The Senate backed immediate 100 percent restoration of retired pay to military retirees who draw VA disability compensation, but it left the measure unfunded. On the other hand, the House proposed phasing in restoration over five years and then only for those with disability ratings of 60 percent or higher. It did fund its plan.
Neither plan may pass. The White House opposes both versions. To complicate matters further, while defense officials oppose concurrent receipt, they did not recommend that Bush veto the bill over the issue, but other Administration officials did.
Both the House and Senate matched the President’s request of about $5.2 billion for the F-22 air dominance fighter and $3.5 billion for the F-35 strike fighter.
The hot issue of whether the Air Force should lease or buy new aerial refueling aircraft did not escape attention.
Senators included a provision that would prohibit Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche from entering into a lease agreement for tankers until he produces a report Congress required in last year’s defense legislation. Roche must also obtain authorization and appropriation of funds. The proposal is for lease of 100 Boeing 767s to be modified as tankers.
Roche has said all along that he would prefer to buy new tankers outright–the less expensive option according to various analysts–if he had the money. (See “Aerospace World: The Washington Tanker Wars,” July, p. 15.)
Both Houses matched the President’s request for $3.7 billion to procure C-17 airlifters.
The House and Senate added funds the Administration did not request for installation of terrain awareness and warning systems on USAF C-130s. They also boosted the amount requested for upgrades to F-16s and added funds not requested to upgrade Air National Guard F-16s. Additionally, the House increased funds to upgrade ANG F-15s.
The House bill would increase by $49 million the President’s request for B-2 bomber upgrades. The Senate version added $45.2 million for upgrades to both the B-2 and B-52.
In the space arena, the Senate reduced the Space Based Infrared System High by $100 million because of significant cost and schedule problems and program restructuring. SBIRS High was one of six programs Pentagon acquisition chief Edward C. Aldridge certified in May is necessary to national security and can be kept within cost controls. It is intended as a replacement for the Defense Support Program ballistic missile early warning satellites.
The Senate added $17 million to the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program to reduce the launch integration risk for the first Wideband Gap-Filler satellite.
Overall, the House added $4.6 billion to the Administration’s request of $68.7 billion for weapons procurement. The Senate added $4.2 billion. Primarily these increases relate to accounting matters–placing some equipment purchases in different accounts. The most significant changes were the House increase for the Navy’s CVN(X) aircraft carrier program ($229 million) and the Senate increase for the Virginia-class submarines ($415 million) and the F/A-18E/F programs ($240 million).
House and Senate conferees are working this month on a final version of the Fiscal 2003 national defense authorization bill.
|Administration Cites New Anthrax Vaccine Policy
Bush Administration officials from the Pentagon and Health and Human Services announced a new policy in which DOD would continue vaccinating troops in higher risk areas and stockpile some of the currently limited quantity of vaccine for domestic use.
The Pentagon had initiated a plan in 1998 to vaccinate all military members. Since then the program was reduced several times as the supply became increasingly scarce.
The sole US supplier, Bioport of Lansing, Mich., closed its production facility for renovations then had trouble regaining Food and Drug Administration approval. The FDA recertified the Bioport facility and its manufacturing processes in January 2002.
At a Pentagon press briefing on June 28, William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said that the number of DOD personnel receiving vaccinations will increase from the current level. He would not specify a number.
“Our policy will be to vaccinate service members, essential civilians, and contractor personnel who are assigned or deployed for more than 15 days in higher-threat areas of the world, whose performance is essential for certain mission-critical capabilities,” said Winkenwerder. The new policy will continue, he said, until more vaccine is available.
The Administration plans to stockpile about half the current production for emergency civil use. Winkenwerder said the amount could change, depending on threat conditions. He said Bioport is producing hundreds of thousands of doses per month.
He dismissed concerns about the safety of the vaccine. “It has a not-insignificant set of local reactions associated with it, but not different from things like typhoid vaccine, or influenza, or hepatitis A; it’s in that same range of side effects.” The local reactions include swelling, redness, and pain at the injection site. He added that the percentage of serious side effects “really is quite small.”
DOD administered about 2.1 million doses of the vaccine to 525,000 service personnel. Out of those, the services reported only 441 members who refused vaccination.
Winkenwerder cited a March 6 National Academy of Sciences study that concluded the vaccine is safe and effective.
“As with any vaccine, there probably are a very, very small number of people who may have what one would call a serious reaction,” he said.
The current vaccination schedule calls for a six-shot series, taken at the first day, two weeks, four weeks, six months, 12 months, and 18 months. Winkenwerder said those personnel who had already received some of the shots in the six-shot regimen would be able to pick up where they left off. “There is a level of immunity that’s there that can be picked back up with the resumption of the series.”
Service members who must take the vaccine will begin their shot series 45 days before deployment, so they will receive three of the six doses. The series would continue during their deployment.
On the civilian side, the Administration intends to use the stockpile as a post-exposure measure and provide a combination of vaccination and antibiotics. Once the supply of the vaccine improves, it might be offered in advance for first responders.
Officials also said DOD, HHS, and other federal agencies are working on a new generation anthrax vaccine that could potentially require fewer doses.
|Building Aerospace Expeditionary Forces for the Long Haul|
|USAF’s 10 rotating Aerospace Expeditionary Forces were designed with steady-state peacetime operations in mind. They emphatically were not built to sustain the operational pace demanded since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
This has happened before. In April 1999–when AEFs were being organized but before they had come officially into use–Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters said that roughly four AEFs’ worth of assets had been deployed for Operation Allied Force over Kosovo. That, many noted, was a problem for a deployment concept based on using only two AEFs at a time.
The problem re-emerged this year under the stress of Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle, said Air Force officials. With no end to the war in sight, and with no letup in the Air Force’s pre-existing commitments, the AEF concept could have been headed toward a breakdown.
However, the Air Force now has decided to strengthen the system by pumping in more resources. The service wants to make sure the system holds up in the harsh new post-Sept. 11 world.
“Obviously, with the dynamic situation you have in Afghanistan right now, requirements will continue to fluctuate,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Peppe, special assistant to the vice chief of staff for AEFs. “The bottom line is, we are happy with the way we’ve been able to do business with AEFs and I don’t see us changing.”
He went on, “We’ve discussed it at length the last couple of months,” and after meeting with top leadership, “the bottom-line message is that everybody in the Air Force … has got to understand that we are expeditionary. That is our business, and we have got to be ready to go–somewhere–at the drop of a hat.”
The unexpected demands have severely strained six Air Force career fields, in particular.
Security forces, the Office of Special Investigations, intelligence officers, civil engineers, enlisted aircrew members, and communications officials are considered the “most critical” shortages, according to service officials.
USAF is working to fill the shortages by constantly evaluating assignments and sending more new airmen into the stressed fields. The Air Force must match manpower and equipment with requirements so that certain airmen in high-demand areas are not deployed for half the year and so that certain capabilities are always available to the warfighting commanders.
The Air Force is working toward equal capability in each AEF, something the service does not yet enjoy because of shortages of some capabilities.
“There are things we have done in the F-16 community, for instance, both in the active and the [Guard and Reserve], to try to increase its capabilities, so that they can give us and the CINCs more flexibility as we’re waging war,” said Peppe. “The bottom line is: We’re trying to make the 10 AEFs as equal as possible, across the board–from a capability point of view–not sheer numbers of people or machines.”
Officials said airmen are supposed to deploy for only 90 days in any single 15-month period, but in some cases, certain Air Force members have been way from home bases up to 179 days.
The Stated Goal
“Our preference for these High-Demand, Low-Density assets is to try to not deploy them for more than 120 days,” said Peppe. “That will be the stated goal. If the CINCs demand and the [Secretary of Defense] concurs, clearly some of those” might be used more.
For HD/LDs, said Peppe, “we need to make sure the training pipeline is as full as it can be, so that we man those particular assets to the authorizations that we’ve already given them.”
“Making sure that the pipeline is open, sending them the right number of people, making sure that the training is available” is critical, he added. For some HD/LD assets, “we’ve gotten to the point a couple of times where we’ve adversely affected the training back home because we’ve had to use so many of those assets in their [primary warfighting] roles that we’ve not been able to keep the training going.”
“As the Guard and Reserve demobilize, … some of those numbers will go up even more,” Peppe said. “Places we are going to need some help” include intelligence and air traffic control, he said, while security forces “clearly are an issue.”
A source of new personnel for regular deployment will be the Air Force’s two Air Expeditionary Wings, based at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. Until now, these two wings have backed up the regular AEFs, serving as on-call, rapid-reaction forces.
Spreading All the Assets
Now, said Peppe, the assets of these wings “will be spread out into the 10 AEFs,” meaning each AEF will have more aircraft, airmen, and support. The AEW aircraft and personnel will be fully allocated to the 10 AEFs as of June 2003.
Combat support units from the AEWs have already been tasked to support the war on terror, Peppe said, but the units need to be more fully integrated into the AEF structure because they have been underutilized to date.
Peppe said about 175,000 airmen are postured for AEF deployments through unit type codes, which identify airmen by mission. The goal, he said, is to have “well over” 200,000 people postured for AEF deployments.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” he said, noting that the entire Air Force headquarters staff in Washington, D.C, should become available for AEF deployment if necessary.
Most headquarters officers have skills needed at forward locations, said Col. John Vrba, chief of competitive sourcing and privatization, manpower, and organization. “Why can’t the Pentagon share the pain?” asked Vrba. “We are going to make the people in the building” available for deployments so that the AEFs are not short-staffed, he said.
Many headquarters career fields have more uniformed officials than needed. For example, the service may have too many officers in the communications, personnel, and finance fields–jobs that civilians or contractors can also perform.
Shortly after Sept. 11, the Air Force took stock of its needs and identified about 30,000 new manpower requirements. “Almost half” involved security forces, according to Vrba.
Overall, 17 career fields are short-staffed. In some cases, said one USAF official, “it will take years to get them in balance again.” The situation has actually improved since shortly after the terror attacks; force protection requirements have settled down somewhat.
The security forces shortage is declining and will probably settle in at “a few thousand,” Vrba said. After the attacks, many Air Force installations went to force protection condition Charlie, which is a much more rigorous security level than the peacetime force protection condition Alpha.
The Air Force career fields facing “long-haul” shortages are security forces, OSI, civil engineering readiness, fuels, firefighters, command post, power production civil engineering, liquid fuels civil engineering, transportation, combat control, intelligence, explosive ordnance detachments, communications, aerospace control and warning, pilots, air crews, and medical. The six most critical “functional areas” sometimes reach across these specific career fields.
Despite the challenges, “the decision was made last month to stick with 10 AEFs,” Peppe said. “We looked at up to 15 different options, and we find no compelling need to change” to another construct, such as eight or 12 AEFs.
As of July 8, 9,900 airmen were still deployed to the Afghanistan region in support of Enduring Freedom, according to service officials. At home, there are combat air patrols, bases on “strip alert,” and increased force protection levels.
The AEF construct has “offered predictability for our people, and hopefully we can make it even more predictable,” Peppe said.
The cycles also allow the service to keep up with maintenance and repair schedules. According to installations and logistics officials, Air Force major commands and system program directors report that aircraft maintenance continues to be performed when and as required, whether it is at home station or deployed.
-Adam J. Hebert
|Would More Than One-Third Shirk a Draft
According to a poll released June 20, 37 percent of college students would evade a military draft if one were reinstituted.
More men than women said they would comply with a draft call. Men indicated they’d be more willing to serve anywhere, while women were split on whether they’d serve anywhere or just in the US.
The nationwide survey of 634 students at 96 four-year schools was conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for the Americans for Victory Over Terrorism.
- Stephen A. Cambone, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s right hand man, moved from principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy to serve as director of program analysis and evaluation. He will still report directly to Rumsfeld, according to a July 1 release.
- The Administration proposed to NATO July 2 that the US leave the position of Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic vacant when the current commander, Army Gen. William F. Kernan, retires in October. Kernan holds the SACLANT post as part of his Joint Forces Command assignment. JFCOM lost its geographic area responsibility under the Pentagon’s Unified Command Plan revision, and NATO is also reviewing its overall command structure. Vice Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. was nominated to replace Kernan at JFCOM.
- The Chinese government said last month that it will permit the US to search for the remains of two American pilots who died nearly 50 years ago when their airplane crashed during a CIA spy mission. The Pentagon said an eight-member team from the Army’s identification lab in Hawaii would conduct the search.
- In Joint Strike Fighter news, the Pentagon said July 11 that Turkey had signed a $175 million partnership package, making it the seventh nation to join the US in development of the JSF. On June 24, Italy, which plans to invest $1.03 billion, became the sixth to join and the second largest partner. Norway signed an agreement June 20, becoming the fifth country to participate.
- BAE Systems announced July 2 that Austria had selected the Eurofighter for its air force and will purchase 24 of the new aircraft.
- The White House announced June 27 that retired Air Force Gen. John A. Gordon replaced retired Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing on the National Security Council as the President’s point man for combating terrorism.
- World military spending grew by two percent last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. They estimated the total spending at $839 billion.
- USAF officials said June 17 that an Air National Guard F-16 pilot caused his aircraft to crash near Atlantic City, N.J., on Jan. 10 by failing to “accurately perform standard flight procedures while rejoining other aircraft.” The pilot, who ejected and received only minor injuries, also did not have his life support gear fastened properly. He became spatially disoriented and could not recover controlled flight. The F-16 was destroyed upon impact.
- Orbital Sciences announced July 11 that it had won a $7.4 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency to fully integrate a new liquid propellant booster to be used as a target vehicle in future missile defense tests.
- USAF officials said July 3 that structural failure caused an RQ-4A Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to crash Dec. 30, 2001, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The culprit was an improperly installed actuator nut plate bolt.
- In another UAV accident report, USAF determined that a Predator crashed shortly after takeoff Jan. 22 on an Enduring Freedom mission because of the crew’s failure to complete checklist items in the proper order.
- A five-person Air Force security forces team beat 20 other teams in its first appearance at the Energy Department/National Nuclear Security Administration security police officer training competition in June. The USAF team: TSgts. Timothy Arnold (Scott AFB, Ill.) and Joseph Provo (McChord AFB, Wash.) and SSgts. Louis Buck and Cesar Ochoa (F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.) and Anthony Fleming (Kirtland AFB, N.M.).
- The 71st Fighter Squadron, Langley AFB, Va., won the 2001 Raytheon Hughes Achievement Award, proclaiming them the best air defense unit in the Air Force, for the third time in less than 10 years, stated a USAF release.
- DOD, VA, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the launch of a Web site June 18 called Medsearch (www. GulfLINK. osd.mil/medsearch). It is a central repository of Gulf War-related medical research.
- USAF announced the top controllers for 2001 in a Pentagon ceremony June 17. They were Capt. Matthew Davidson (Pope AFB, N.C.), MSgt. Bart Decker (Hurlburt Field, Fla.), TSgt. Mario Marcoccia (Pope), and SrA. Jose Navarez (Hurlburt).
- The Air Force selected 2,175 officers who met the calendar 2002A board for promotion to major. The selection rate for line officers was 88.6 percent. For the judge advocate general corps, it was 87.1 percent; nurse corps, 73.6 percent; medical service corps, 89.7 percent; biomedical sciences corps, 87.8 percent.
- USAF personnel won 11 first-place honors in the 2001 DOD Thomas Jefferson Awards competition for print and broadcast journalists. Among the Air Force winners was SSgt. Michael Noel, Air Force News Agency, San Antonio, named DOD broadcast journalist of the year.
- Vandenberg AFB, Calif., successfully launched a Titan II booster June 24. It carried a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite into orbit. Vandenberg now has only two Titan II launch vehicles remaining; they are scheduled for launch by January 2003.
- A 4th Special Operations Squadron AC-130 gunship from Hurlburt Field, Fla., helped local officials find two 19-year-olds stranded in a bay near Pensacola, Fla., after their jet ski quit working June 13. It was about 10:30 p.m. when the gunship, which was already in the air heading for a training range, got the request. After about 2.5 hours, the infrared sensor operator spotted the teenagers.
- USAF selected 6,340 out of 19,081 eligible technical sergeants for promotion to master sergeant, for a selection rate of 33.23 percent. The service selected 11,571 of 34,530 eligible staff sergeants for promotion to technical sergeant, a 33.51 percent rate. The master sergeant rate dropped about 5.75 percent from last year, while the tech sergeant rate was comparable to last year’s rate.
- MSgt. Mike Barber, assigned to NORAD at Peterson AFB, Colo., won second place in the Masters National Powerlifting Championships held in June at Charlottesville, Va. At 5 foot 6 inches and 198 pounds, Barber almost claimed first, but a torn bicep limited his bench press to 425 pounds. That left his 675-pound squat and 650-pound dead lift to carry the day.
- Air Force Reserve Command transferred its first sergeant training from Robins AFB, Ga., to the First Sergeant Academy at Maxwell AFB, Ala. The academy now trains all Air Force first sergeants–active, Air National Guard, and AFRC.
- The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile System Program, led by the Air Force, received the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award June 18 for its innovative teaming arrangements with industry and government that provided the missile in one-third the time and at half the unit price of comparable programs, announced a DOD release.
- The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program, available to military members, federal employees, and their spouses, opened a six-month window July 1 for a streamlined application process. The insurance is offered by John Hancock and MetLife insurance companies through a contract with the Office of Personnel Management. Open season information kits and application instructions are available on the Web (www.ltcfeds.com) or by calling 1-800-582-3337 (TDD: 1-800-843-3557).
- The Air Force selected eight NCOs, all from the communications and information career field, for master’s degree programs starting this month. Five will study computer science, two will study electrical engineering, and one will study information systems management. They were CMSgt. Donald J. Clabaugh; SMSgts. Stephanie E. Carroll and Francis Szabo; and MSgts. Charlie Cruz, James B. Kuntzelman, Edward A. Mathews, Duane C. Sorgaard, and Daniel E. Swayne.
- USAF announced that the director of manpower and organization realigned July 1 under the deputy chief of staff for personnel. The move leads the way for a service-wide merger of the manpower and personnel career fields.