Dunford Says Sequestration Has Created a “Maintenance Trough”

The Defense Department will not be able to solve its aircraft maintenance shortfall until regular budgets are passed, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress Thursday. During the most severe budget sequestration cuts of 2013, he said, “We laid off a lot of engineers, and a lot of artisans, and a lot of people that are very critical to maintaining our aircraft.” And while spending caps have loosened since then, Dunford told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that “we have not recovered from 2013, and many of the people that were laid off as a result of sequestration in 2013 never came back.” The resulting “maintenance trough” has not gone away and continues to cut “across all the services,” Dunford said. “In many cases what you see is units that are unable to field the requisite number of aircraft for that particular unit. In some cases, they rate 12, [but] they only have six. They rate 20, [but] they only have 10.” The DOD will continue to struggle with inadequate maintenance levels, Dunford said, until the Department receives “predictable budgets and a stable workforce.”

Mattis Says Korean Conflict Would be Costly

US military action against North Korea would lead to “a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we have seen since 1953,” the year the Korean War ended, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told Congress Thursday. In response to questions from the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel about the US capability to take military action there without incurring massive South Korean casualties, Mattis said, “There is probably an awful lot of damage that’s going to be done no matter how much capability we bring to the theater.” He said that due to the “dug in nature of the artillery and rocket positions within range of Seoul,” any conflict would almost certainly involve “massive shelling of an ally’s capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth.” Mattis told the committee, “We would win” such a war, but the victory would come “at great cost.” President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been courting Chinese leaders as a way of “exhausting all possible diplomatic efforts,” Mattis said, “to make certain we don’t get to that point.” —Wilson Brissett

See also: Keeping Peace in Korea from the November 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.

Mattis Supports DOD Unfunded Priorities

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reminded Congress on Thursday that it has the power to authorize more money than President Donald Trump requested for the Defense Department in his Fiscal 2018 budget. Mattis said there is “about $33 billion in the services’ unfunded priorities” that Congress could use as a guide to what the President’s Budget leaves undone. The Air Force submitted $10.7 billion in unfunded priorities, including money for 14 more F-35As, three more KC-46s, and 12 more MC-130Js. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Air University Student, CV-22 Pilot Receives DFC

An Air University student and former Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 pilot received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a highly classified mission in 2014. Maj. Ryan Mittelstet, a student at the Air Command and Staff College, was deployed at the time as a CV-22 Osprey aircraft commander, Joint Special Operations, Air Component-Central, Special Operations Command Central. He was awarded the medal on May 30 for a 2014 long-range, low-level mission into enemy airspace under zero illumination “to provide direct action infiltration and exfiltration of military personnel,” according to an Air Force Special Operations Command release. The DFC citation commended Mittelstet’s ability to plan, brief, and rehearse several concepts of operations, the release states. “Everyone wants to hear they did a good job and is valued by their team,” he said in the release. “Receiving a DFC does just that, but it also represents the fact that everyone who was a part of that mission did something that is at a higher level than what is normally accomplished.”

Aerospace, Defense Industry Supported 2.4 Million US Jobs in 2016

Last year, the US aerospace and defense (A&D) industry supported 2.4 million American jobs. Of those, 845,000 were in directly employed while the rest involved indirect, “supply chain” jobs, according to the Aerospace Industries Association’s 2017 Facts and Figures report, released on Thursday. Compared to 2015, however, employment in this industry dropped by about 0.6 percent, or a little over 14,000 jobs. The report attributes this drop to losses in the “supply chain” end of employment more so than in direct employment. Also last year, the industry “generated $872 billion in sales, and reduced the US trade deficit by a record $90.3 billion,” according to the report. In the area of research and development, government spending grew 7.5 percent in 2016 to $84.7 billion while industry spending (from the top 25 A&D firms) grew 8.7 percent to $18.1 billion. Researchers define the A&D industry as “consisting of establishments that manufacture end-use platforms including civil and military aircraft, space systems, military vehicles, ships, and armaments, as well as the thousands of suppliers that provide parts, components, and services for manufacture of these systems.” This year, the research also includes companies that support cyber services. AIA worked on its research in tandem with IHS Markit. You can read the 2015 reported figures here. —Gideon Grudo

Air Force Magazine Awarded for Journalistic Excellence

Air Force Magazine was recognized by the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on June 13 at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C. News Editor Amy McCullough received first place in the non-breaking news category within the magazine’s division for her detailed account of the six-decades-plus struggle to maintain stability on the Korean peninsula, “Keeping Peace in Korea.” Photo Editor Mike Tsukamoto and Digital Platforms Editor Gideon Grudo took first place in the infographic category for their expla?nation on technology readiness levels, or benchmarks by which USAF and other defense agencies determine the maturation and readiness of developing technologies. The society honored Air Force Magazine in 2016 and 2015, as well. The Society of Professional Journalists is a national organization dedicated to improving and protecting journalism since its inception in 1909. In addition to its advocacy and educational efforts, it is the keeper of the internationally known code of journalism ethics.


—The Senate approved a bipartisan package of new Russian sanctions on Wednesday with a vote of 97-2. The deal blocks President Trump from lifting the penalties against Moscow, adds new sanctions against Russia’s defense and military-intelligence sectors, and codifies existing sanctions against Russia into law: Politico

—Qatar is expected to buy as many as 36 F-15 fighters from the United States. The new deal, announced Wednesday by the Pentagon, comes as several Gulf nations have cut ties with the country over its alleged terrorist connections: Bloomberg

—The C-5M Super Galaxy Formal Training Unit flew its last flight out of Dover AFB, Del., on June 8. The training unit will now operate out of JBSA-Lackland Kelly Field Annex in Texas: USAF release

—The House Appropriations Committee approved an $88 billion Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill Thursday, clearing its way to proceed to the full House. The committee report is here. Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) said the measure passed “with bipartisan support” in a statement.

—Boeing and DARPA will base the experimental XS-1 Phantom Express spaceplane at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Boeing already prepares and rehabs the X-37 at that site: Spaceflight Now