House Panel Calls for Halt in Anthrax Shots
A sharply critical House of Representatives report has called for a suspension in the Pentagon's anthrax immunization program. The effectiveness of the anti-anthrax shots is uncertain, and the safety of troops who have been inoculated is not being properly monitored, said the report.
The immunization program is based on a "dangerously narrow scientific and medical foundation," said the House Government Reform Committee national security subcommittee report.
Furthermore, the regimen was expanded arbitrarily. Livestock workers used to receive three shots to protect against anthrax. After three inoculated people became infected after exposure to anthrax, doctors arbitrarily added three more shots, according to the report.
The report calls for the anthrax vaccine to be returned to the status of an experimental drug pending further study.
Defense Department officials insist in reply that the vaccine is "safe and effective." The number of adverse reactions to the vaccinations remains low, according to figures DoD released in February.
Some 400,000 members of the military have received a total of nearly 1.4 million anthrax vaccine dosages. Through the beginning of February, only 620 individuals have submitted reports to the US Food and Drug Administration about adverse reactions from the shots.
Adverse reaction reports are reviewed by the Anthrax Vaccine Expert Committee, an independent panel of civilians sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services. The committee's review in January revealed that 76 of the reports of adverse reactions were, in fact, likely to have been caused by the anthrax shots.
"We are fortunate to have a vaccine that is both safe and effective," said Lt. Gen. Paul K. Carlton Jr., Air Force surgeon general. "It would be morally irresponsible for Air Force leaders and the entire Department of Defense not to protect our troops against this lethal threat."
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Training Expands
The Department of Defense approved service plans for the expansion of training about the "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" policy regarding homosexuals in the armed forces.
Education about the program will continue to be included in the recruit training and officer entry training curriculums. It will also be added to all levels of noncommissioned officer and officer professional military education.
Air Force officers, for example, will now receive additional don't ask, don't tell, don't harass instruction at Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and the Air War College.
"The idea here is to make the training more uniform ... and to first stress that this policy is part of a nondiscrimination policy in the military," said DoD spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon. "It's to make sure that everybody understands exactly what the policy is and what it isn't, what it allows and doesn't allow, and to make sure that this is being communicated uniformly throughout every service."
In Fiscal 1999, 1,034 service members were discharged under the homosexual policy, said Bacon, down from 1,145 in Fiscal 1998.
About 83 percent of those discharged last year were the result of statement cases, in which members of the military went to their commanders and declared their homosexuality.
Don't ask, don't tell has been a matter of some political controversy in recent months, following the fatal beating of a soldier perceived to be a homosexual at Ft. Campbell, Ky.
President Clinton has said the program is "out of whack"-that the policy is not working as he intended when he announced it in 1993.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is thus in the unusual position of defending Administration policy in the face of criticism from the Administration itself.
"It's a law that I think strikes the proper balance between the requirement for good law, order, and discipline in the military and individual rights," said Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a February session with Washington defense reporters.
"We've got it right. I would not argue that the implementation of it has left something to be desired," said the JCS chief.
DoD Worries About ISR Shortages
The Department of Defense is continuing to study a shortfall in the number of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance platforms in the military, says the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Conflicts from the Persian Gulf War to Kosovo have continually proved that spy satellites, radar aircraft, electronic warfare equipment, and other ISR assets are among the most valuable items in the military.
"We've only got a limited number of ISR assets, and the demand is high for those assets on a daily basis," said Shelton in a meeting with defense reporters Feb. 15.
Demand for ISR does not abate during peacetime, Shelton noted. Such low-intensity-conflict operations as counterdrug planning are heavy ISR users.
The proposed Fiscal 2001 budget aims at easing the ISR shortfall by including money for an additional EA-6B electronic warfare squadron and an RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft through the five-year defense plan.
More adds may be in store in future years.
Shalikashvili Leads CTBT Revival Effort
The Clinton Administration has turned to retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for help in reviving the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Shalikashvili will lead a low-key task force that will explore ways of making the CTBT pact acceptable to the Senate, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright announced Jan. 28. Senators rejected the pact, 5148, last October.
"We do not expect to seek consent in the Senate this year, given the shortness of the calendar," said State Department spokesman James P. Rubin. "But what we are hoping to do by bringing Shalikashvili aboard is to develop the basis and the groundwork so that a consensus can develop for CTBT ratification in the near future."
The concerns raised by treaty opponents include the difficulty of verification and the need to make sure the US nuclear arsenal remains modern and safe.
Partisan acrimony played a part in the Senate defeat, as well. In the vote's aftermath some internationalist Republicans expressed discomfiture with the outcome and called for further work toward possible compromise.
If nothing else, the choice of Shalikashvili should reassure allies who were upset when the long-sought treaty was derailed in the US.
Congress May Restore ABL Cuts
Key members of Congress are vowing to restore the $900 million the Air Force marked for cuts in the Airborne Laser program over the next five years.
Initial reports cited the budget cuts as a DoD decision. However, in Feb. 8 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Cohen stated it was solely an Air Force decision.
In subsequent budget testimony, Air Force Secretary Peters assured senators that the service is committed to the program. In fact, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan asked for restoration of the full five years' funding in his top priorities list of unfunded requirements presented to Congress in February.
The ABL has shone in major tests and was set for a shootdown experiment in 2003. If the cuts remain, that first shot would now be in 2005, according to the Pentagon.
Minuteman/Pegasus Launch a Success
On Jan. 26, the Air Force successfully launched a new hybrid Minuteman/Pegasus rocket for the first time.
The Orbital Suborbital Program Space Launch Vehicle is the result of combining a Minuteman II first and second stage with the third and fourth stages of a Pegasus XL, built by contractor Orbital Sciences.
The creation of the hybrid rocket is part of an Air Force effort to use surplus Minuteman II components as a lower-cost means of reaching space. The service currently has more than 350 Minuteman II ICBMs in storage.
"We demonstrated that we can take retired Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and use them as a low-cost, reliable, space launch vehicle," said Col. Dan Dansro, launch mission director. "By inserting satellites into the desired orbit, we've now proven this new capability."
The Vandenberg AFB, Calif., launch went perfectly, said Air Force officials. The payload consisted of four satellites from universities across the country and scientific experiments.
The OSP is capable of launching several payloads of up to 750 pounds to a 400 nautical mile, sun-synchronous orbit.
"The fact that we launched a complex payload is important because it allows us to use the maximum capability of the launch vehicle for customers who perhaps couldn't afford paying for a space launch by themselves," said Maj. Steven Buckley, launch director.
Kosovo After Action Report
Successful as it was, Operation Allied Force highlighted shortfalls in American military capability that will now be addressed with budget dollars and policy changes, according to a lessons learned report submitted to Congress at the end of January.
Writing in "Kosovo/Operation Allied Force After-Action Report," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton said last year's air campaign "identified the need for specific enhancements in [the US military's] precision strike, electronic warfare, and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities."
The Pentagon will apply $3.5 billion in Fiscal 2001 toward buying more satellite-guided munitions, adding an additional squadron of EA-6B jamming airplanes to the fleet, adding another E-8 Joint STARS ground-surveillance airplane, acquiring more towed decoys, and upgrading satellites and surveillance drones. It will also spend money to improve and quicken the process by which intelligence is collected, analyzed, and sent in usable form to forward staffs and combat units.
The Defense Department is also taking steps "to ensure the lessons of this operation are not lost" and will be making changes to doctrine, military education, training, and the Joint Vision 2010 national security blueprint as a result of the experience in the Balkans.
Cohen and Shelton said the services did a good job of cooperating and coordinating their efforts and that the performance of the troops involved was "extraordinary." They also praised the cooperation and coordination of NATO, both in military and political matters, in obtaining Yugoslavia's compliance with NATO demands.
However, they noted that NATO allies on the whole are falling behind the US in military capabilities and that "improvements are necessary" in allied hardware and organization to get fully up-to-date in precision attack, secure communications, command and control, mobility, and other areas.
During the operation, the US bore a "disproportionate burden of responsibility for combat operations," Cohen and Shelton said. They said "on an encouraging note" that the NATO allies are "already concentrating" on upgrading their militaries, with an eye toward the lessons of the Balkans. They also said NATO needs to undertake a review of its coordination policies and develop a new joint doctrine.
Air attacks on the Serbs forced their fielded forces to hide and limit their movements, according to the report. Strikes on infrastructure targets-such as bridges and power plants-hampered Serb command and control and their efforts to resupply their forces. "These effects created pressure on [Yugoslavian President Slobodan] Milosevic to yield to NATO demands."
One of the changes to be made to doctrine will be in the area of Army air and missile assets. These will be brought under the air tasking order of future operations, "when appropriate," and a new Joint Deep Operations doctrine will be developed that includes such systems as Army attack helicopters and the Army Tactical Missile System.
The report singled out the C-17 as a platform crucial to the success of Allied Force; its "high reliability and basing versatility clearly enhanced our ability to deploy forces to, and within, the European theater." Also of great logistical benefit were new systems designed to track supplies and equipment on their way from home base to the front lines. Nevertheless, glitches and delays occurred and could be chalked up to plans and practices that will now be overhauled, Cohen and Shelton observed.
While the efforts of NATO to suppress enemy ground-based defenses were largely successful, the Pentagon acknowledged that it never fully deprived the Serbs of their ability to harass and threaten NATO airplanes. It said that aircrews had ground missiles shot at them at a rate "three times that encountered by the average coalition aircrew during Operation Desert Storm" in 1991.
"Our experience in Allied Force ... re-emphasized the importance of having a comprehensive air defense suppression strategy," according to the report, which said a new strategy for this critical element of future air campaigns is being developed, to be ready later this year.
The Balkans operation did not impede the US ability to fight and win two near-simultaneous Major Theater Wars, as national strategy calls for, though it did add "some risk" to that capability, Cohen and Shelton wrote. If more important wars had broken out, they asserted, the US would have withdrawn from Allied Force to deal with the greater threat.
The high professionalism of US troops was the chief reason there were no NATO troops killed in Allied Force, but "this achievement cannot be expected in every future conflict," Cohen and Shelton pointed out.
A Stunner From the Duke
Last year, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (RCalif.) took dead aim at the Air Force's F-22 Raptor.
The retiredNavy fighter ace contended that the F-22 program was consuming the funds needed to improve the quality of life for military personnel and to meet less glamorous needs, such as upgrading the Pentagon's aging fleet of radar-jamming airplanes.
He became a leader among a group of House defense appropriators who tried to eliminate all F-22 procurement funding and put the program in a "research-only" mode.
Evidently, Cunningham's had a change of heart. Here is what he said in a Feb. 15 speech on the House floor:
"We are debating in Congress the additional cost of that particular airplane. If anything, we need to double the numbers [currently, 339 fighters], reduce the unit cost, and proceed with the test and evaluation so we can take a look at introducing that particular airplane capability against the future threat of Russian and Chinese airplanes. ...
"This year, in Congress, we debated the F-22. The F-22 will meet the threat of the [Russianbuilt] SU-35 and the SU-37, which are the future aircraft. Right now, in my opinion, it is one of the few airplanes that will meet that threat. Unfortunately, the airplane today is $187 million a copy. The research and development is over $20 billion, and the cost of the electronics, hopefully, will not go up.
"If we do anything, Mr. Speaker, we should double the buy of the F-22. Because what they did is, with Lockheed and the Air Force, they cut the buy of the F-22 in half. When you take all this research and development money and you put it on a lesser number of airplanes, each of those airplanes, when you pile those additional costs, it is more than if you had a whole bunch of them. So, in the future, I think we need to double the buy of the F-22."
Did Deutch Mishandle US Defense Secrets ...
The Department of Defense is investigating whether former CIA Director John M. Deutch-who also served as a top DoD official-mishandled Pentagon secrets by keeping them on an unsecured government computer in his home.
DoD is thus following the lead of the CIA, which has already begun a damage assessment to determine whether intelligence community information was compromised by Deutch.
At issue in both probes are several of Deutch's government-issued laptop and desktop computer systems, which he used to keep a personal diary and to access the Internet and receive e-mail-including at least one message from a Russian scientist now living in the West. Deutch left the CIA in December 1996.
The defense information at risk concerns "special access programs," said officials. Many of these highly classified black programs are kept secret even from the CIA and are known to only a handful of DoD officials.
Deutch, who headed the CIA in the period 199596, would have been briefed on these programs when he was undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, and then deputy secretary of defense, from 1993 to May of 1995. They involve plans for information warfare and other highly technical weapons, among other things.
CIA security officials first discovered evidence that Deutch may have violated laws concerning the use of classified material in mid-December 1996. The Justice Department was not notified of the possible infractions until over a year later.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is itself investigating the investigations by studying whether high-level CIA officials covered up evidence of Deutch's misdeeds to prevent embarrassing the former senior official.
... And Was the Investigation Flawed?
Deutch's actions came to light on Dec. 17, 1996, when CIA technicians took a routine inventory of computers in his suburban Washington home. On them (and later, others), they found much sensitive and classified data. Officials, no matter how senior, are barred from putting such information on insecure, unclassified computers, especially when linked to the Internet.
The CIA launched an internal investigation, but it soon bogged down. A CIA inspector general report, recently released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Deutch resisted being interviewed by CIA security officers. Moreover, his interests supposedly were zealously guarded by CIA General Counsel Michael O'Neil and CIA Executive Director Nora Slatkin.
Even as the investigation was continuing, Deutch was given a security briefing as a member of the White House's Proliferation Commission. Moreover, he was permitted to keep his security clearances for such work.
On Aug. 3, 1997, the legal adviser to the operations division (unnamed in the document) sent an e-mail to a colleague. He expressed concern that no one had yet warned the Pentagon or the White House about Deutch's possible compromise of classified information. He also raised the issue of Deutch retaining his security clearance. His words:
"I remain unpersuaded ... that the CIA has done everything it can in this case to protect CIA and DoD equities. The investigation has been one in name only. ... I'm certainly not persuaded that giving this man a security clearance is in the best interest of the US Government or the President. ... I mean, geez, when was the last time a subject of an investigation was not interviewed because he objected to talking to security officers and the EXDIR [Slatkin], a personal friend, used her position to short-circuit an investigation? Let's be honest with each other; this so-called investigation has been handled in a manner that was more designed not to upset friendships than to protect the interests of the USG."
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Tweets by @AirForceMag