Kerry Tapped to lead State Department

President Obama on Friday announced he’s nominating Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be State Secretary during Obama’s second term. Kerry would replace Hillary Clinton, who plans to step down in January after four years in the post. “In a sense,...

C-5A Retirements OK, but with Caveats

The Air Force may go ahead and retire its remaining C-5A transports—leaving the service with a planned fleet of 275 strategic airlifters—but only after the Pentagon completes its ongoing mobility capabilities assessment, decided Congressional overseers of defense policy. Further, the Air Force must preserve these C-5As "in flyable condition" once out of service and not use them to supply parts to other aircraft as long as the total number of strategic airlifters in the operational fleet is less than 301 tails, according to the language in the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization conference report. Only the Defense Secretary may authorize the Air Force to cannibalize these C-5As for parts, states the report, which House and Senate defense authorizers released on Dec. 18. The lawmakers also want the Defense Secretary to maintain a strategic airlift fleet of "not less than 275 aircraft," states the report. The Air Force leadership proposed retiring the service's 27 remaining C-27As in the service's Fiscal 2013 budget proposal. That would leave 223 C-17s and 52 newly upgraded C-5Ms for strategic airlift, which the leadership maintains is sufficient to satisfy the demand. The House on Dec. 20 approved the conference version of the defense authorization bill by a vote of 315 to 107. The Senate must approve it before it goes to President Obama for his signature. (Conference report full text; caution, extremely large file.) (For more background, read Mobility Maturation from Air Force Magazine's June 2012 issue.)

Panetta Clarifies Sequestration’s Immediate Implications

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told senior defense leadership on Thursday that he doesn't expect the Pentagon's day-to-day operations to change dramatically on Jan. 2, or immediately thereafter, should budget sequestration take effect. (Unlike Congress acts to prevent it, sequestration automatically kicks in on that day.) That's because while sequestration would bring down the Defense Department's budget for the remainder of Fiscal 2013, there would still be funds available and "it would not necessarily require immediate reductions in spending," wrote Panetta in his Dec. 20 memo. This situation is different from scenarios in past years when threats of government shutdown loomed due to a lapse in appropriations, he said. Because of this, Panetta said the Pentagon "will not be executing any immediate civilian personnel actions, such as furloughs." However, having to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period might force the Pentagon "to consider furloughs or other actions in the future," but only after officials examine other options to reduce costs, he stated. Sequestration, included in last year's Budget Control Act, entails significant across-the-board spending cuts to all Pentagon accounts except for those exempted, like military personnel. (See also Getting Ready.)

Proposed Global Hawk Block 30 Cuts Nixed

The conference report for the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill tosses one of the Air Force’s more prominent proposed cuts to its force structure: the retirement of the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 fleet. The Senate version of the bill...

Congress Champions the Direct Approach

Lawmakers told the Air Force to maintain 40 tactical airlifters in Fiscal 2013 to meet the Army’s time-sensitive, direct-support delivery needs, according to language they included in the conference report for this fiscal year’s defense authorization bill. They also want...

Mutually Reinforcing

The White House issued the National Strategy for Information Sharing and Safeguarding to provide guidance for the responsible distribution of information to those who need it to keep the country safe, while at the same time protecting data from those wishing to do the nation harm. "While these two priorities—sharing and safeguarding—are often seen as mutually exclusive, in reality they are mutually reinforcing," stated President Obama in the foreword to the strategy, issued on Dec. 19. He added, "This strategy, therefore, emphasizes how strengthening the protection of classified and sensitive information can help to build confidence and trust so that such information can be shared with authorized users." The strategy lays out direction on developing and implementing policies, processes, standards, and technologies to promote secure and responsible information sharing. It's grounded in three principles: information is a national asset; sharing and safeguarding information requires shared risk management; and information informs decision-making. Obama said the strategy makes clear that "the individual privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of United States persons must be—and will be—protected."

Dyess Airmen Expand Their Airdrop Training Envelope

Members of the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess AFB, Tex., successfully dropped two Joint Precision Airdrop System bundles from 15,000 feet during training earlier this month at Nellis AFB, Nev., according to group officials. This marked the highest altitude from...

Ramstein Airmen Host Nigerians

Members of the Nigerian air force’s quick response force visited Ramstein AB, Germany, earlier this month for subject-matter exchange with airmen from the 435th Contingency Response Group. “Our goal is to address their needs and concerns to improve their own...

Kunsan Welcomes New Maintenance Facility

Officials at Kunsan AB, South Korea, this week cut the ribbon on a new maintenance complex that consolidates 18 interrelated shops. “Before the new facility was completed, maintenance operations were performed out of several buildings scattered across three square miles,”...