An aircraft and crew of the New York Air National Guard on Oct. 16 dashed through brutal cold and into the depths of Antarctica to rescue a doctor who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was stranded there for months.
In a 6.5-hour, 1,680-mile round-trip, the ANG’s specially equipped LC-130 aircraft flew from McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast to the South Pole and back again. The crew and aircraft were from the New Yorkbased 109th Airlift Wing.
“The risk factor was eight or nine out of 10,” Maj. Robbie McAllister, the pilot, told the Associated Press. “It was at the limits of the operational ability of the airplane.”
The Air Guardsmen retrieved Jerri Nielsen, a physician assigned to a 41-member National Science Foundation research team that spent the winter at the domed AmundsenScott South Pole Station. The crew brought in a replacement doctor.
Nielsen had discovered a lump in her breast some months ago but had to wait for a break in the Antarctic weather before she could leave. Before the crew could attempt the rescue, the temperature had to “warm up” to at least 58 degrees below zero. Otherwise, the airplane’s fuel would not flow and hydraulic systems would not function properly while the airplane waited on the ground.
Nielsen returned to the United States for treatment.
“People were just really pleased we were able to get in and get her out,” said Col. Graham Pritchard Jr., wing commander.
Crew members were McAllister, the pilot; Maj. David Koltermann, copilot; Lt. Col. Bryan Fennessy, navigator; CMSgt. Michael Cristiano, flight engineer; and SMSgt. Kurt Garrison and TSgt. David Vesper, loadmasters. The medical team included Maj. Kimberly Terpening, flight nurse, and CMSgt. Michael Casatelli and MSgt. Kelly McDowell, medical technicians.
Some National Guard and Reserve members may quit over the issue, but the military still needs to press ahead with its effort to inoculate the Total Force against anthrax, Pentagon officials told Congress at a Sept. 30 hearing.
The anthrax shots are a defensive necessity, like a flak jacket or helmet, said military leaders.
On the battlefields of the future “if you don’t get inoculated you’re going to die,” Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre told the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
The vaccine used by DoD is the same one authorized in 1970 by the US Food and Drug Administration and used ever since by US livestock workers, said Hamre. It is intended to protect against many different anthrax strains.
Internet misinformation and rumormongering have alarmed some service members, Hamre said.
“I would admit we have not done a good enough job explaining to all of the people at home,” he said.
As of Sept. 30, the program has given shots to more than 340,000 personnel, including 27,000 Guardsmen and Reservists, said officials.
“When they’re injected, there are often local side effects that include tenderness, soreness, redness, a lump at the site, fever, muscle aches, and pains,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald R. Blanck, surgeon general of the Army.
Some 72 cases of serious side effects have been reported. Of these, government doctors attributed 55 cases to the anthrax vaccine. All 55 of these service members have been returned to full duty.
Not all members of Congress are convinced of the anthrax program’s claimed benefits.
Rep. Christopher Shays (RConn.) estimated that 30 percent of pilots and technicians in some Air National Guard units have quit over the issue, but officials are “unable, or unwilling, to discern a trend,” said Shays.
In Memphis, for instance, 22 of the Memphis Air Guard’s 50 pilots were refusing to take the anthrax vaccination as of early October. Thirty-eight other personnel were taking a similar position.
The 60 servicemen “have requested to be released from the unit due to concerns over the anthrax vaccination program,” said a Tennessee ANG press release.
The Air Force is permanently grounding its T-3A Firefly training airplanes, officials announced Oct. 9. The service’s introductory flight training will now be handled by commercial flight schools-a move that will save $16 million a year in operating costs, according to Air Force estimates.
The move increases the training time for incoming pilots from 40 to 50 hours, while requiring that they earn a private pilot’s license before entering the Air Force’s undergraduate pilot programs.
The Firefly-a powerful and agile Britishmade propeller airplane-had been used to screen pilot candidates for the rigors of jet training. But the airplane has been dogged by problems with engine stalling.
The Air Force Academy had suspended use of the Firefly in 1997 after three cadets and three instructors died in crashes over a three-year period.
The government will expand Arlington National Cemetery by acquiring 45 acres of surrounding land under the terms of a provision contained in this year’s defense authorization bill, signed into law by President Clinton in early October.
The national cemetery will acquire the entire 37-acre Navy Annex, as well as eight acres from Ft. Myer, according to the legislation’s terms. The land could provide enough space for up to 30,000 more grave sites. Currently about 60,000 sites remain available.
“Now we can preserve for future generations the greatest honor for our greatest heroes, burial at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Rep. Bob Stump (RAriz.), chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
The Navy Annex is to be torn down within 15 years, under the new law. Ten acres of the land may be reserved for a possible National Military Museum.
For the Ft. Myer land to connect to the cemetery, Arlington must also obtain nearly 10 acres of intervening National Park Service land that surrounds Arlington House, the former home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
A Park Service report has recommended the transfer of this parcel. However, environmental groups and local governing bodies have expressed concern about the move, saying they fear a grove of old-growth forest may be cut down to make way for grave sites.
Air Force recruiters brought in 32,068 new airmen in Fiscal 1999-the highest annual number since 1992. However, the goal was 33,800, and the Air Force was left just short of its quota.
“There are a lot of opportunities in the civilian sector, and there are a lot of opportunities to go to college,” said Lt. Gen. Donald L. Peterson, USAF deputy chief of staff for personnel, during an Oct. 8 visit to Ramstein AB, Germany. “This makes for tough competition.”
One of the biggest problems underlying the recruiting challenge is a lack of knowledge about the Air Force and what it has to offer, said USAF’s top uniformed personnel officer.
Compared to earlier times, the public has little understanding of the military in general, as only 6 percent of Americans under the age of 65 have worn their country’s uniform. Meanwhile, the Air Force has closed 25 percent of its Stateside bases and 65 percent of its overseas bases in recent years.
“There is less of a footprint where people are exposed to the military, which makes for a challenging recruiting environment,” said Peterson.
The Air Force plans to spend $37 million more on advertising this year. Last year’s total of four enlistment bonuses has been greatly expanded. Currently the service offers enlistment bonuses for more than 100 different specialty codes.
Greater retention of personnel would also ease some of the pressure on recruiters. The 4.8 percent pay raise approved by Congress will likely make continued service more attractive to many, as could higher promotion rates.
The Air Force recently received authorization to increase its middle and senior noncommissioned officer ranks, noted Peterson.
“The top five enlisted ranks will grow from 48.5 percent of the enlisted force today to 56 percent of the force by 2003. This will permit the Air Force to maintain needed experience while maintaining reasonable promotion opportunity,” said Peterson.
Air Force Research Laboratory contractors have been testing Laser Eye Protection spectacles on aircrews flying the C-17 Globemaster III out of Charleston AFB, S.C.
The tests are a response to the growing threat of offensive and defensive laser weapons worldwide.
“Our goal is to protect the aircrew from unseen hazards-primarily infrared lasers,” said Alex M. Archibald Jr., operational requirements specialist for LittonThe Analytic Sciences Corp.
Possible protection comes in a normal-looking pair of glasses. There have been tests of two types-reflective and dye-based. Reflective spectacles reflect lasers away, as sunglasses protect against the sun’s rays. Dye spectacles absorb the light, like a sponge.
Both types have been tested on pilots during ground and taxi operations and while wearing night vision goggles. The point was to iron out any problems before airborne testing.
Testing during flight has already occurred for C-21, C-130, F-15E, and F-117 aircrews.
“If all the results are favorable, the [Air Force Materiel Command] Life Support [System Program Office] will determine how the lenses can be adapted into visors and glasses to be worn in all USAF aircraft,” said Bill R. Ercoline, a retired USAF pilot and lead human factors scientist for the LittonTASC LEP group.
The Air Forceindustry team developing the Airborne Laser missile defense system has successfully completed testing of a laser module that will serve as the technical foundation for flight laser modules.
The TRWbuilt Flight-weighted Laser Module-3 (FLM-3) exceeded the power and beam quality requirements of the operational ABL system during a four-month test program at TRW’s Capistrano Test Site in southern California.
“The FLM-3 test results provide the latest evidence from our extensive ABL test program that the system design is solid and that we’re on course to put this revolutionary weapon system in the air in 2003,” said Col. Michael W. Booen, director of the ABL program.
The success stemmed from changes TRW made in the components that regulate the flow of chemical reactants in the laser module, said officials. That allowed FLM-3 to operate under a full range of operating conditions, from a first shot with a fresh chemical magazine to a last shot from a spent magazine.
Team ABL will now finalize the design for the flight laser modules and begin manufacturing the first of six such components needed for the first 747-based ABL system. Testing is set to begin late next year.
On Sept. 3, the National Reconnaissance Office announced that Boeing won government approval to proceed with a multiyear, multibillion dollar spy satellite contract.
The move broke Lockheed’s 40-year grip on building the nation’s “eye-in-the-sky” satellites. “It’s a major coup for us,” Boeing President Harry C. Stonecipher said.
Lockheed Martin had challenged the award, but the Pentagon rejected the company’s claim, clearing the way for Boeing to proceed with the work, which could be worth as much as $15 billion, according to industry analysts.
Satellite development begins in the middle of the next decade, said NRO officials.
The Air Force Reserve undergraduate flying training program will benefit from the recent raising of the age limit for pilot and navigator applicants from 27.5 years to 30 years, say Air Force Reserve Command officials.
“In the past, we’ve had a number of enlisted aircrew members who worked extremely hard to get their degree and get private flying time while involved in a very high operations tempo for the Reserve,” said MSgt. Cynthia Crocker, chief of undergraduate pilot and navigator training at AFRC headquarters. “When they finally met all the requirements for undergraduate flying training, we had to tell them they were too old.”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan raised the age limit on July 1 to broaden the pool of qualified applicants for both Reserve and active flying training programs. For the Reserve, the change was effective with the recent Fiscal 2000 flying training board.
The age limit applies to when training actually begins, not when the selection board meets, noted Crocker.
It may be old, but the U-2 was the backbone of US reconnaissance efforts during Operation Allied Force, according to a high-ranking Air Force official.
“We never dropped a bomb on a target without having a U-2 take a look at it,” said Maj. Gen. William T. Hobbins, director of operations for US Air Forces in Europe, in a letter to the aircraft’s builder, Lockheed Martin.
The U-2 was USAFE’s only around-the-clock, all-weather, multi-intelligence capability, according to Hobbins. It flew 189 combat missions and provided 1,300 hours of collection time. Its mission capable rate was 90 percent, said Hobbins.
U-2s collected more than 80 percent of the imagery for Kosovo airstrikes, said the letter.
Air Force officers with dreams of making it big in professional sports ranks will have to meet new criteria before they can embark on that career.
Previously, prospective pros in the service were allowed to join the Individual Ready Reserve. Officers in the IRR are not required to actively participate with a unit unless recalled by the President.
Effective Oct. 5, officers requesting a separation from active duty to pursue a sports career will be required to serve three years in the active reserves for every one year remaining on an existing active duty commitment.
Before even being considered, they must serve two years of active duty commissioned service and have a binding contract on the regular-season active team roster. The Secretary of the Air Force must approve these waivers.
Only five Air Force officers have been allowed to try for the pro ranks in the past 10 years. The policy came under review because the majority of these individuals did not make a regular-season professional roster.
The best-known Air Force professional sports success story is Chad Hennings, a former A-10 pilot in Desert Storm. Hennings, who was a star on the Air Force Academy football team, is a starting defensive tackle for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. He was not one of the five officers who requested a waiver.
Here’s something different: Boeing has hired the Air Force to work on its own airplanes.
On Sept. 27, Boeing and the service signed a contract that for the first time will allow a private firm to subcontract work on military aircraft to a government depot.
The publicprivate partnership is part of the Air Force’s Flexible Sustainment strategy for maintaining the C-17 Globemaster while it is still in production.
Boeing has overall responsibility for supporting the aircraft, but the company can take advantage of government-owned resources where it sees fit.
Under terms of the new contract, Boeing will steer some upkeep work to Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins AFB, Ga. Beginning next April, Warner Robins ALC will perform C-17 Analytical Condition Inspections, which look for hidden aircraft wear and tear.
“What we’re doing is a business test case,” said Col. Larry Eriksen, leader of the Support Systems Integrated Product Team at the C-17 System Program Office. “We want to see how we can most wisely use the resources and best practices of the commercial world, combined with those of DoD. In order to do that, we need to join forces somewhat and take advantage of what works best from both environments.”
The ACIs will take about 45 days apiece. Boeing currently performs such inspection work at its commercial depot site in San Antonio.
Next year may see a second such contract, this time between Boeing and the Ogden ALC, Hill AFB, Utah. That agreement would cover landing gear, brakes, and wheels.
It would “involve much more support equipment and training than the inspections and [would] actually involve some repair work,” said Eriksen.
Pratt & Whitney’s F119-PW-100 engine has been certified to power the F-22 Raptor through its full flight envelope. Meeting Full Flight Release criteria means that the F119 is well on its way to completion of Engineering and Manufacturing Development.
Meeting FFR affirms that the power plant has demonstrated a durability of at least half its expected hot section life of 1,000 engine flight hours and 2,150 total accumulated cycles. As of Sept. 30, P&W F119s had logged more than 384 flight test hours and a total engine run time in excess of 10,000 hours.
“As the second of four EMD milestones, achieving FFR is an essential step toward our ultimate goal of having the engine released for production,” said Tom Farmer, P&W’s F119/F-22 program manager.
Final countdown for two huge launch towers at Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral AS, Fla., came on Oct. 14. After a crowd of hundreds joined in yelling the words “Blasting into the future,” explosives leveled the 5-million-pound Mobile Service Tower and the 2-million-pound Umbilical Tower.
The job was done in about 20 seconds.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics razed the towers-site of 27 Titan III and IV launches-to make way for construction of a new Atlas V launch complex.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics is developing the Atlas V family of more efficient, lower cost rockets in cooperation with the US Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
In October 1998, the Air Force awarded the company contracts valued at $1.15 billion to complete development of the Atlas V and provide launch services for nine missions.
The Army has begun an investigation into allegations that US soldiers gunned down hundreds of civilian refugees under a South Korean bridge nearly 50 years ago.
The probe was spurred primarily by recent press reports on the alleged incident at No Gun Ri (or Nokuen-Ri) in South Korea. Subsequently, there have been reports of similar events in other locations.
The Pentagon’s primary responsibility right now will be the No Gun Ri investigation, stated Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon on Nov. 2. “Then we will look at the evidence of others and weigh that.”
Persistent questions about possible liability and compensation have been answered with: “It’s premature to talk about all these other issues.” Bacon did say, however, that compensation would be one of the steps to be considered once the facts are determined.
The opening phase of the Korean War was chaotic, Pentagon officials noted. Ill-trained and ill-equipped US troops faced a determined push south by North Korean soldiers.
At the time, US commanders feared North Korean infiltrators who dressed as civilians and hid in groups of refugees, only to turn and fire on defenders once they had passed.
US officials reiterated that a document search showed no trace of the action. The new inquiry into the incident will likely take at least a year, said Army Secretary Louis Caldera.
A Department of Defense steering group, led by Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Rudy de Leon, will oversee the Army’s effort. On Nov. 2, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen also announced appointment of “seven distinguished Americans, with relevant expertise outside the Department of Defense, to provide their professional advice on the conduct of the [No Gun Ri] review and on the Army’s report.”
South Korea is participating in the probe, as well.
Fine Print on the F-22 Deal
Under terms of a House-Senate-White House deal on the F-22 fighter, USAF gets to keep its most critical program going for at least another year, but it will also face some new roadblocks.
The compromise defense appropriations bill signed by President Clinton on Oct. 25 contains $2.5 billion for F-22 work, enough to sustain the fighter through Fiscal 2000.
At the same time, the deal pins the F-22’s fate to a series of high-stakes tests. Lawmakers decided (and Clinton agreed) that the F-22 would stay in development and not enter production. This was done to permit more-robust testing of avionics, stealthiness, and weapon delivery systems.
Officials said a decision to begin production of the fighter will hinge on the following:
F-22 critics are particularly insistent on the first point. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee and leader of the charge against the F-22, said success in this area is “essential” for production.
F-22 backers have some concerns. Software integration can be tricky and difficult. The F-22’s integrated avionics, moreover, are revolutionary in complexity and scope.
The fighter’s avionics system will have 1.7 million lines of software code, integrated in three blocks. Block 1 focuses on radar capability. Block 2 begins the process of sensor fusion, with some electronic warfare functions. Block 3 brings full sensor fusion and electronic counter-countermeasures.
The Air Force plans to integrate the Block 3 software into a test F-22 in spring 2000.
“Block 3.0 testing is especially significant,” Lewis warned in an Oct. 6 statement. “This stage involves very complicated and technical evaluation of the avionics that are basic to the F-22 attaining performance at levels beyond any aircraft in the world.”
Testing isn’t the only challenge. The compromise deal also cost the Air Force program a big chunk of money.
Congress took $560 million out of the original $3 billion budget request. The Air Force now must cut spending elsewhere to make up the difference over the next two years.
Maj. Gen. Claude M. Bolton Jr., the Air Force’s top officer for fighter and bomber programs, told Air Force Magazine that USAF is at pains to find $412 million in 2001 and $148 million in 2002.
“Other programs-and I don’t know which, right now-will be impacted,” he said.
The cut and other aspects of the compromise mean that the first six F-22s-which will be called “test” aircraft rather than “production” aircraft, though they are essentially identical-will be paid for through incremental funding over three years.
“There should be no program impact,” said Robert S. Rearden Jr., Lockheed Martin’s top F-22 manager, “as long as the government authorizes and appropriates the required funding.”
The fighter program had been in turmoil since midsummer, when a small band of House appropriators, led by Lewis, launched a surprise attack on its production budget. The Senate, led by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), eventually forced a compromise generally favorable to the Air Force program.
Senate Delivers Crushing Blow to Clinton’s CTB Pact
On Oct. 13, the Senate voted 5148 to reject a treaty that would ban all underground nuclear tests. It will likely enter the history books as one of the Clinton Administration’s most notable policy defeats.
To supporters of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Senate’s action was a diplomatic faux pas. France, Germany, Britain, Japan, and other allies had urged the Senate to ratify the CTBT as a signal to nations with emerging nuclear programs that more testing-and hence the accumulation of more modern warheads-is unacceptable.
President Clinton, for his part, said the vote illuminated a Senate Republican return to isolationism.
Treaty opponents replied that a permanent test ban would have frozen the US nuclear arsenal at its current level of development while rivals continued to work on new warheads via clandestine tests. Rogues such as North Korea aren’t even CTBT signatories, opponents pointed out.
“[The CTBT] won’t make any difference to countries who are determined to be part of the nuclear club,” said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R) of Indiana, a staunch internationalist who nevertheless voted against the treaty.
The future safety of the US stockpile was also a big issue in the vote.
CTBT backers said that new computer models ensure that subcritical explosions are all that is needed to determine if warheads are dangerously deteriorating.
Opponents said that tests will always be necessary to properly judge the stability of the nation’s nuclear weapons.
The vote does not mean that a test program is set to resume. The US has observed a test moratorium since 1992, and that will continue for the foreseeable future, said Administration officials.
From 1945 until 1992 the US conducted 1,030 nuclear explosions, according to a nuclear weapons expert. Most were aimed at perfecting new warhead designs.
In recent decades, the US has withdrawn 11 warheads a year from active status for purposes of reliability review. Ten of these were simply examined visually. One was torn apart and its nuclear pit examined for problems.
An environment rich in radiation, plus the natural aging process, can affect everything from the chemical explosives to the glues and plastics used in nuclear weapons, say experts.
Problems have cropped up in the past. Former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger, arguing against the treaty in a Senate hearing, noted that the Polaris warheads of the 1960s suffered from corrosion and had to be refitted.
Minuteman ICBM warheads had high-explosives problems.
Schlesinger said that until a few years ago, the US nuclear laboratories opposed a flat test ban and wanted any test pact to allow explosions of a few kilotons for reliability check purposes.
US intelligence can’t accurately verify whether China or Russia carries out such low-yield explosions, added treaty opponents. Administration officials rejoined that that’s not true-and that anyway, it doesn’t matter.
“Would that be militarily significant in terms of undercutting our strategic capability? Our judgment is no,” said Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.
Ryan’s Concerns About USAF Posture
Gen. Michael E. Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, testified Oct. 21 before the House Armed Services Committee, relaying concerns about declining readiness, operations tempo, and the Air Force capability to meet the national strategy’s two-war requirement. Excerpts:
Erosion of Force Readiness: “Underfunding and loss of skilled personnel and high operations tempo over the past years have contributed to a slow but steady decline in Air Force readiness. … Readiness is down an additional 5 percent since my last appearance before this committee [in the spring]. …
“I’m truly concerned about this continued downturn in readiness yet hopeful that we’ll see a readiness stabilization as the Fiscal Year 1999 and 2000 budget initiatives and the supplementals … take effect.”
Falling Short of Two-War Needs: “The Air Force, again, is not a twoMTW force, either. Our lift force, many of our special assets, bombers, are not-and tankers and health assets are not-twoMajor Theater War capable. They must swing from one to the other.
“But 99 percent of the force is required to go to one or the other in the first 30 days. And that’s why our readiness issue has been on the front burner for us for so long. … I would be very uncomfortable in backing up that strategy.”
Few Assets, in High Demand: “In [Allied Force], we used about 40 percent of our ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] assets. That’s about what we planned on using for a Major Theater War. We had the other half, or 60 percent, of them available for worldwide tasking. Every one of our assets, however, because of the worldwide requirement and a Major Theater War, were tasked at surge rate.”
Stresses of Allied Force: “Before Allied Force, we were operating from five fixed and four expeditionary bases in Europe. At the end of the buildup, we had moved into 21 more bases, erecting tent cities for thousands, and deploying over 500 aircraft throughout Europe. We flew 11,000 sorties on the airlift side, moving millions of [pounds] of cargo.
“In 78 days of high-intensity combat, we flew over 50 percent of the 38,000 [combat] sorties and dropped almost 90 percent of the 23,000 munitions expended with not a single combat loss. …
“Allied Force, together with our global commitments, meant that, by percentage of force, we in the Air Force were more heavily tasked [overseas] than at any other time in the last four decades, including Desert Storm.”
DoD Chalks Up First Successful NMD Test
The Pentagon is getting better at hitting bullets with bullets. In an Oct. 2 test, the Raytheonbuilt Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle anti-missile weapon-a prototype National Missile Defense interceptor-hit a simulated re-entry vehicle launched on a Minuteman II ICBM.
The successful test followed a string of hits by the theater high altitude area defense and Patriot-3 anti-missile systems. It marked the first demonstration of hit-to-kill technology at the speed and range of an ICBM.
The Minuteman was fired from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The EKV was fired from the Kwajalein missile range in the Pacific, some 4,300 miles away, about 20 minutes later.
The EKV intercepted the target after flying about 230 miles, at an altitude of 140 miles. Its onboard sensors successfully picked out the simulated warhead from a decoy balloon and the Minuteman’s third stage.
Then the EKV slammed into its target at a closing speed of 16,000 miles per hour, hitting within 10 percent of the best spot to obliterate the warhead, according to program officials.
Russia reacted negatively to the test, which it said violated the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty of 1972.
“Such actions … effectively lead to the undermining of key provisions in the treaty with all the negative consequences which that entails,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin at a news briefing.
US officials have been attempting to begin a discussion with Russia about how the ABM pact might be amended to allow limited defenses capable of handling an attack by North Korea and other rogue states.
But the Kremlin has been adamant about spurning the overtures, saying that the ABM Treaty remains a cornerstone of the world’s arms control framework. It has even rejected a US offer to help complete a Russian missile-tracking radar near Irkutsk, Siberia.
“We aren’t negotiating any kind of amendments to the ABM,” Rakhmanin said.
UCP Changes, Space Command to Guard
On Oct. 7, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced changes to the Unified Command Plan, bringing the demise of US Atlantic Command, a new emphasis on defending the US homeland against 21st century threats, and the enlargement of US European Command’s zone of authority.
US Joint Forces Command has now arisen in the place of Atlantic Command. In making the name change, Pentagon authorities are attempting to hurry along the long-touted transition to a seamless warfighting structure for the US military, with the Army, Navy, and Air Force working jointly as never before.
The new USJFCOM will have a mandate to “accelerate” joint training opportunities, implement joint warfighting lessons learned, and recommend changes to joint doctrine, according to Pentagon officials.
In another change, US Space Command will become the lead military agency for computer network defense. It will assume responsibility for the Arlington, Va.based Joint Task ForceComputer Network Defense. Operational since 1998, the JTFCND is the main line of defense for all military information networks. It monitors and attempts to stop cyber intrusions and works closely with other federal agencies.
“Space Command has some built-in potential in that regard, in terms of the types of experts they have, both in computers/communications and space assets. And so it was almost a logical fit for them to take on that additional responsibility,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton.
Space Command also will eventually be in charge of highly classified offensive computer network attack capabilities.
Finally, the Unified Command Plan changes transfer responsibility for the waters off the east coast of Africa from Pacific Command to European Command. Likewise, charge for the coastal waters off western Europe and Africa’s west coast will move from the former Atlantic Command to European Command.
The Defense Budget Bills at Year’s End
President Clinton on Oct. 25 signed Fiscal 2000 defense appropriations legislation into law. The spending bill allocates $267.7 billion in funds for Defense Department pay, purchases, and operations in Fiscal 2000. That amount exceeds President Clinton’s original request for these particular accounts by $4.5 billion and the Fiscal 1999 bill by $17.3 billion. Members of Congress termed it the first significant increase in defense appropriations in 14 years
A companion military construction appropriation bill, passed earlier, provides billions more to the armed services.
The Fiscal 2000 legislation fully funds a 4.8 percent pay raise for military personnel, up from the 4.4 percent requested by the Administration. It adds $399.2 million over the budget request for recruiting and retention efforts-including a $110 million pot for aviation continuation pay to alleviate Air Force and Navy pilot shortages.
The bill provides $53 billion for weapons procurement. Some $3 billion of this would go for 15 C-17 airlifters and $2.5 billion for further development of the F-22 fighter. (See box on p. 11.) Congress granted $36 million for advanced procurement of more E-8 Joint STARS radar airplanes and $113 million for 29 Joint Primary Aircraft Training System aircraft. It adds $275 million so that the Air Force can buy five new F-15 Eagles next year.
Research and development funding, at $37.6 billion, comes in $3.2 billion above the White House request. There is $309 million for the Airborne Laser program and $109 million for upgrades to the bomber fleet, including $95.9 million for B-2 data link and weapons upgrades, $5 million for the B-1 for conventional bomb modules, and $8 million for B-52 upgrades.
At $92.2 billion, operations and maintenance spending came in $1 billion over the Clinton budget outline. Of this, an extra $289 million was added to spare parts and war reserve materiel accounts and $222 million for depot maintenance.
In their conference report, appropriators also included language calling for the Pentagon to produce a detailed report on how it will expand and maintain its fleet of low-density, high-demand aircraft, such as the U-2, E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, and Joint STARS.
The companion defense authorization bill for next year received President Clinton’s signature Oct. 5. This bill, which essentially sets policy and spending guidelines, also gave assent to the 4.8 percent raise next year-the largest such increase in military compensation in nearly two decades, officials said.
“We have to recruit and retain the best people and provide them with a sound quality of life if we’re going to remain a dominant force for good for the future,” said Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen at the bill’s Pentagon signing ceremony.
The legislation also makes significant changes in the military retirement program. Under the authorization bill, those who joined the military after September 1986 have a choice:
n Accept a one-time bonus of $30,000 after 15 years of service and remain in the current retirement system, which will pay 40 percent of base pay (and approximately one-fourth of total pay and allowances) upon separation at 20 years.
n Transfer into the more generous pre-1986 system, which will provide them 50 percent of base pay (and approximately one-third of total pay and allowances) after 20 years of service.
Under the authorization legislation, Air Force end strength will shrink again from 1999’s 370,882 to 360,877.
The military’s Tricare health system will see some change, with lawmakers directing the Pentagon to implement General Accounting Officerecommended improvements to Tricare’s claims processing system.
Perry Calls for “Urgent Focus” on North Korean
A high-level review team led by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry has concluded that the US needs an “urgent focus” on ending North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile programs.
A 1994 pact, the Agreed Framework, has already succeeded in stopping plutonium production at North Korea’s Yongbyon facility. But the review team still has serious concerns about the possibility of continued weapons work, according to its report.
Japan has been jolted by a North Korean long-range missile test. China-one of North Korea’s few friends-has gained a greater understanding of US concerns about the stability of the Korean peninsula. South Korea has a new government and a new approach to relations with its prickly northern cousin.
“All these factors combine to create a profoundly different landscape than existed in 1994,” concludes the North Korea policy review study.
Three facts constrain any US approach to the hermit kingdom of Asia, according to Perry’s group.
The first is that the North Korean government shows no sign of either collapsing or opening further to the outside world, despite long-standing Western predictions that its policy of radical self-reliance is ultimately doomed.
The second is that the US must treat North Korea with caution. The risk of a destructive war involving untold casualties remains too great for anything but prudent and patient moves.
The third is that the US must attempt to supplement the 1994 Agreed Framework, not replace it. “Unfreezing Yongbyon remains the North’s quickest and surest path to nuclear weapons,” points out the newly released study.
A two-track strategy may thus now be the best approach to dealing with North Korea, according to Perry’s group.
Under the preferable scenario, the US, its allies, and the North Koreans would work out complete and verifiable assurances that Pyongyang has no nuclear weapons program at any facility and that it will cease development, testing, or sales of threatening missiles. In return, North Korea would receive step-by-step relaxation of sanctions and an eventual normalization of relations.
If North Korea rejects this first track, the US and its allies may need to adopt a second approach and try to contain Pyongyang, according to the Perry report, while keeping the Agreed Framework intact.
Negotiators would “have to take firm but measured steps to persuade [North Korea] that it should return to the first path and avoid destabilizing the security situation in the region,” concludes the Perry report.
|Curtain Down on “Valor”
In February 1983, Air Force Magazine began a series of one-page stories about Air Force heroes. We called the new series “Valor.” It ran monthly and was enormously popular from the start.
By the time the fourth “Valor” story was published in May 1983, we had recruited Col. John L. Frisbee, USAF (Ret.), a former editor of Air Force Magazine, to take over as the regular author. He has written all of the episodes that have appeared since then. At the request of the editors, he also rewrote the first three stories to produce a complete “Valor” set under his authorship.
The last original “Valor” story was published in September 1998. We have been running reprints since then. The series makes its 197th and final appearance in Air Force Magazine this month, coinciding with John Frisbee’s 83rd birthday.
All of the “Valor” stories–the 176 Frisbee originals, the three non-Frisbee episodes, and the reprints, some of which contain slight modifications or corrections–are a permanent part of the Air Force Magazine section of the Air Force Association Web site (www.afa.org). [All “Valors” are now archived on the Valor page of www.airforce-magazine.com.]
This is the most extensive body of work anywhere in the world on heroism in the US Air Force and its predecessor organizations. Nothing else comes close, and it’s doubtful that anything else ever will.
Army Makes Effort to Lighten Up
The US Army will attempt to reshape itself into a lighter, more mobile force that is still capable of outgunning any potential adversary, according to a long-awaited vision statement outlined by new Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki on Oct. 12 at the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army.
The Army’s plan for the next few decades seemed more oriented toward maintaining its heavy-force status quo. But the experience of Operation Allied Force-in which an Army Apache attack helicopter unit proved so ponderous as to not be useful during actual hostilities-has apparently helped push the service toward greater reforms in its traditional structure.
The next-generation Army will give up its behemoth tanks and drive light but lethal wheeled vehicles, said Shinseki. Highly computerized communications and surveillance gear will increase the units’ lethality.
“In the changing world in which we live today, we’ve got to be able to get to the fight faster,” added Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera.
In the most immediate evidence of change, the Army will create two new mobile brigades able to move to the fight anywhere in the world within 96 hours. The new units will be medium forces in the Army’s scheme of things-lighter than today’s 70-ton M-1 tankequipped units but laden with more armored vehicles than airborne troops.
The technology to fully equip these brigades may not be available for a decade or more. Wheel and armor technology will have to make major advances to provide the combination of movement and protection that Army leaders want.
“The 70-ton tank is going to be something else,” said Lt. Gen. Paul J. Kern, director of the Army Acquisition Corps. What it is going to be, though, “is a bit murky right now.”
Plans call for a combat vehicle of about 20 tons that can be carried on a C-130. It should carry an infantry squad while serving as their main gun and be capable of being adapted for use in air defense, field artillery, communications, and other functions.
Use of such a common platform could greatly reduce support requirements. The new vehicle is also supposed to be much more fuel efficient, requiring 95 gallons per day, as opposed to the M-1’s 494.
“We’re not just looking at the tonnage. We’re looking at the entire capability of that system,” said Kern.
Gen. Bruce Holloway, Flying Tiger
Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, USAF (Ret.), a veteran of the Flying Tigers of World War II and one of the Air Force’s premier postwar leaders, died on Sept. 30 at his Florida home. He was 87.
Holloway graduated from West Point in 1937 and flew for two years with the Army Air Corps. However, his first combat experience came with the American Volunteer Group in China-Claire L. Chennault’s Flying Tigers. After the group was activated as the AAF’s 23rd Fighter Group, Holloway became one of its mainstays, rising from major to colonel and eventually to group commander.
During his tour in China, he shot down 13 Japanese airplanes, earning status as a fighter ace.
After the war, Holloway became commander of the new Air Force’s first jet fighter group. Continuing a steady rise through the ranks, he was named head of US Air Forces in Europe in 1965 and USAF vice chief of staff in 1966. In 1968, he became commander in chief of Strategic Air Command, the post from which he retired in 1972.
- Gen. John P. Jumper, head of US Air Forces in Europe, was confirmed by the Senate on Nov. 8 as commander of Air Combat Command, replacing Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart.
- On Oct. 29, the Senate confirmed Eberhart, head of Air Combat Command, to be commander in chief of US Space Command.
- Gen. Richard B. Myers, head of US Space Command, was confirmed Oct. 29 for the post of vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Myers replaces Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston.
- Meanwhile, Ralston was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 29 to succeed Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark as Supreme Allied Commander Europe. On Nov. 3, NATO officially appointed Ralston to the post, effective May 2000. Currently vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Ralston has also served as head of Air Combat Command.
- Anti-nerve agent pills given to troops during the Gulf War cannot be ruled out as a possible cause for some of the illnesses veterans of the war have reported, according to a new study by Rand. Pyridostigmine bromide was administered to an estimated 250,000 troops because it’s the only medication known to be effective against the nerve gas soman.
- Air Force Recruiting Service finished Fiscal 1999 some 5 percent short of its active duty recruiting goal. It marks only the ninth time in 44 years of record keeping that the Air Force has not met its recruiting needs.
- US Air Force airlifters began ferrying an elite Thai peacekeeping force into troubled East Timor on Oct. 4. The troops were flown out of Don Muang RTAB, Thailand, on a variety of aircraft, including a C-141 from McGuire AFB, N.J., and a C-5 from Travis AFB, Calif.
- A catastrophic failure in the high-pressure turbine assembly caused the crash of an F-16 from the 523rd Fighter Squadron, Cannon AFB, N.M., on July 12, according to a just-released accident board report. The assembly failed when two blades separated due to material fatigue.
- On Oct. 6, contractors imploded the first of 150 Minuteman III silos in eastern North Dakota to be destroyed under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I. Some 100 spectators watched 750 pounds of an ammonium nitratefuel oil mixture turn a Cold Warera icon into a pile of rubble.
- The Air Force took delivery of its first WC-130J on Oct. 12. The aircraft, a special weather reconnaissance version of the Lockheed Martin C-130J, is assigned to AFRC’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss. Six more are scheduled to be delivered this year, with an additional three coming in 2000.
- The life stories of veterans now living at the Armed Forces Retirement Home are profiled at a new “Home for Heroes” Web site maintained by the American Forces Information Service. The home is actually two facilities-the US Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home in Washington and the US Naval Home in Gulfport, Miss. The site address is http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/heroes/.
- On Oct. 4, the Kelly Field Heritage Foundation unveiled a statue at Kelly AFB, Texas, honoring the many women whose dedicated efforts made the facility a bastion of the war effort during World War II. Some 10,000 of these “Kelly Katies” filled the jobs of aircraft repairmen who went to war, said base officials.
- Forty-three Air Force bases and more than 400 people competed in the Air Force Supply and Fuels Readiness Competition at DavisMonthan AFB, Ariz., Oct. 68. Altus AFB, Okla., was the Supply and Fuels Competition Champion Team at the “Roadeo.”
- Raytheon has delivered the first operational Global Positioning Systemguided EGBU-15 glide bomb to the Air Force. The F-15Ecarried weapon can be steered to its target via GPS satellite signals or by the aircraft’s aircrew.
- The Air Force introduced an improved recruiting Web site Oct. 18 that is intended to allow viewers to get a glimpse of the service’s past, present, and future. It includes everything from a “boneyard” with view of Air Force aircraft past to links to “microsites” that describe specific career and educational opportunities. The site address is http://www.airforce.com/.
- Planners say they expect a record crowd of over 3,000 for the year 2000 Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., on April 16. The 26.2-mile march is a grueling desert exercise which is meant to recognize the sacrifices made by thousands of US and Filipino service members overwhelmed by the Japanese in the Philippine Islands during World War II. “It is a unique tribute to a group of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Army Capt. Paul Zeps, Bataan Memorial Death March project officer.