Dunford Says Lack of Budget Harming US Ability to Project Power
The top US military officer told Congress Tuesday that repeated continuing resolutions to fund the federal government are limiting the nation’s ability to project power, reassure allies, and prevent conflict around the globe. If the US does not fund its military at a steady rate of three to seven percent of GDP, Dunford said, the military’s ability to maintain its “competitive advantage” over near-peers Russia and China will be hampered, and war will become more likely. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Dunford: US Must Match Russian Abilities to “Compete Below the Level of War”
Despite its conventional military dominance, the US is not prepared to respond to modern strategies of warfare developing in Russia and China, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday. Those nations, and others, are integrating “cyber, political influence, economic coercion, and information operations,” along with “military posture,” in a strategy of “conducting adversarial competition at a level that falls below conflict,” Dunford said. Meanwhile, the US military is “a force that is designed for conventional war.” Dunford told the committee that “we need to adapt the US military—really the entire US government—to be able to compete at that level.” Potential adversaries have adopted such an approach in response to the overwhelming US conventional advantages. In the case of Russia, “even with an overall weak hand, they’ve been able to effectively advance their interests without going to war,” Dunford said. Making the US more competitive against these threats would mean improving “our electronic warfare capability, our cyber capabilities, and our information operations capability,” Dunford said, and these need to be further integrated with “the economic and political tools” used by the Department of State, “from a whole of government perspective.”
White House Removes Aerial Refueling Capability from Air Force One
The White House has decided to remove the aerial refueling capability from the next version of Air Force One as a cost-saving measure, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress Tuesday. Before taking office, President Donald Trump criticized the high cost of the presidential transport aircraft replacement program and called for Boeing’s contract to be cancelled. In August, the Air Force announced a deal to buy and refurbish two stored Boeing 747-8s to replace the current fleet of VC-25As. Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee that excluding in-flight refueling from the new Air Force One was “a decision that was not made by the Air Force, but made by the White House, and I think it had to do with fiscal constraints on the program.” The change “will certainly be a limiting factor,” Dunford said, “and we’ll have to plan accordingly.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told Dunford that, “I think we might need to revisit that decision here on Capitol Hill.” Though aerial refueling is not often used on Air Force One, it could become a critical capability in the event of an emergency. For example, after President George W. Bush learned of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it was determined the safest place for him was in the air aboard Air Force One.
Mattis Calls for Diplomacy With North Korea
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is pressing for diplomatic solutions to the standoff with North Korea, saying that while the Pentagon can deter that country’s most dangerous threats, diplomacy is needed. The Defense Department will “back up our diplomats in a manner to keep this as long as possible in the diplomatic realm,” Mattis said during a brief appearance in New Delhi. His comments come a day after North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said the US has “declared war” through public statements by President Trump and claimed North Korea now is justified in shooting down US bombers in international airspace. Mattis has repeatedly called for discussions with North Korea to alleviate the tensions, saying last week at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference it is better for that country to deal with the US State Department then facing the Defense Department’s military options. —Brian Everstine
McCain, Reed Criticize Trump’s Military Leadership
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) expressed disappointment in the Trump administration’s leadership in matters of national defense Tuesday. “This committee, and the Congress more broadly, is not receiving the information and respect it deserves as a co-equal branch of government,” McCain said. The leaders reminded Gen. Joseph Dunford during his confirmation hearing for reappointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he has a responsibility to keep both the President and Congress informed on military matters. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
US Needs to Focus on Non-Nuclear Iranian Threats, Dunford Says
The US military believes that Iran is acting in compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, limiting its nuclear program to peaceful uses, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress Tuesday. “The intel community assessment is, in fact, that they are in compliance right now,” Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Therefore I think we should focus on addressing the other challenges” that Iran presents to the US, Dunford said. He added JCPOA “was designed specifically to address what I would describe as one of the five major threats of Iran, the nuclear threat.” But Iran also presents threats in the areas of ballistic missiles, naval operations, cyber warfare, and “support of proxies” throughout the middle east. “We see a physical manifestation of that in Yemen, we see it in Iraq, we see it in Lebanon, we see it in Syria.” He told senators the US needs to address these Iranian threats in order to achieve success in the region.
Rogers Claims Independent Space Corps A “Win-Win” for the Air Force
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) says his push for an independent Space Corps would be a win for the Air Force, even though top service leaders vehemently oppose the move. Rogers said the creation of an independent service, a move that was approved by the House but not included in the Senate’s version of the defense authorization bill, would free the Air Force to focus on “air superiority.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
A-10 Demo Team to Return to Air Shows
The Air Force’s A-10 demonstration team will take flight again next year. The team last flew in air shows in 2011, and since then has only flown with the Air Force Heritage Flight program in 2012 and 2017, according to an Air Combat Command release. The A-10 aerial demonstration, which is made up of one aircraft from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., is scheduled for 14 air shows throughout 2018. The team’s pilot is Capt. Cody Wilton. The team was grounded for the 2012 air show season because of financial constraints, the Air Force said at the time. —Brian Everstine
—The Air Force is planning to conduct a directed energy experimentation campaign in Fiscal 2018. “We identified directed energy as a game-changing technology area in our Air Force strategy and pressed forward with developing a Flight Plan to define what we needed to do to get from the laboratory to operational capability,” said Dr. Greg Zacharias, Chief Scientist of the Air Force. “Experimentation and prototyping are critical tools to help make this happen:” USAF release.
—The Afghan Air Force has received its first two UH-60 Blackhawks at Kandahar Airfield: USAF release.
—Officials at Offutt AFB, Neb., are hoping to construction of a new $1.2 billion headquarters for US Strategic Command will help the base escape another Base Realignment and Closure should Congress approve it: Associated Press via Military.com.