AEF Development On Track
With eight Aerospace Expeditionary Force cycles behind it, USAF is transitioning to the new world of AEFs on schedule and with success, according to Maj. Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, Expeditionary Aerospace Force implementation director at the Air Staff in Washington.
That does not mean that things are going perfectly-or that lessons for future deployments are not being learned almost every day, said Chandler on a recent visit to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. EAF implementation is "a marathon, not a sprint," he said.
In the field the biggest challenge seems to be training, preparing, and deploying as trained teams in groups known as Unit Type Codes. Airmen are still learning what that means.
Wing commanders are still learning how to balance engagement operations and stay-at-home missions.
Major commands are still facing the challenge of shaping modular UTCs and making them useful.
Component commands "are our key to defining, or asking for, [UTC] capabilities for the warfighting [commanders in chief]," said Chandler.
Most feedback has been positive. But the predictability of the EAF experience is still uneven. Late taskings continue.
"We know there are airmen who have received as little as a week advance notification of deployment. This is not good and is not our goal," said Chandler.
Air Force leaders are looking at crew ratios to help lessen the strain on low-density, high-demand units. And they are pleased that reserve participation in the AEF concept is right on track.
"The initial plan was for up to 10 percent [Air Reserve Component] contribution-that target has been struck dead center," said Chandler.
Ryan Hits Funding Shortfalls
Gen. Michael E. Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, asserts that the United States is badly underfunding airpower.
At a June 7 Korean War remembrance ceremony, reported by USA Today, he said that the same lack of money that hampered US military readiness at the start of that war 50 years ago afflicts today's force.
US military spending in June 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, was at its second-lowest point since the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in World War II.
The lowest point? Today.
"History teaches us a lot of lessons if we'll just listen," Ryan said.
Budgets have been so constrained that the Air Force has had difficulty reshaping itself for the post-Cold War era, said Ryan on May 23 at an aerospace power seminar sponsored by DFI International. "We have underfunded the defense side of this nation's capability for some years," said the Chief.
Lawmakers Demand Suspension of Anthrax Shots
On May 16 a bipartisan group of 35 members of Congress sent Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen a letter requesting that the Pentagon's mandatory anthrax inoculation program be suspended until the Pentagon can find an improved vaccine.
On the same day, they received a response not from Cohen, but from Charles Cragin, who signed the letter as acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
The lawmakers' letter followed up on a House Government Reform subcommittee report issued Feb. 17. (See "Aerospace World: House Panel Calls for Halt in Anthrax Shots," April, p. 12.) That report called for DoD to suspend the current program and be more aggressive in researching a second-generation vaccine that would shorten the shot regimen.
They wrote that "anecdotal evidence continues to grow of severe, adverse systemic reactions in recipients of the vaccine." The lawmakers claim that DoD has ignored questions raised by the National Academy of Science, the General Accounting Office, and even the Pentagon's inspector general.
Cragin, in the Pentagon's response, said that he could not agree to a suspension, which he said would jeopardize thousands of military men and women.
More than 400,000 military personnel have received the shots. Some 620 have complained of side effects, according to DoD. Though there are no conclusive figures on how many military members have refused to take the shots, some opponents of the program put the number at around 300.
On May 31, five of the 35 lawmakers sent another letter to Cohen. They called Cragin's letter inadequate, saying he ignored most of the facts they presented. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.), and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) have asked that Cohen respond personally this time.
The House Appropriations Committee report on the Fiscal 2001 defense budget, released June 1, included a provision for an additional $1 million to accelerate development of an alternative vaccine. However, the appropriators did not ask for a program suspension.
Tiger Team to Study C-5 Readiness
Recent declines in the mission capability rate of the C-5 Galaxy have led Air Force leaders to form a tiger team that will attempt to find ways to improve the availability of the mammoth airlifter.
Policies and processes, not people, will be the issue, said officials.
"Let there be no question that this is about what is wrong and not about who is wrong," said William Cromer, deputy director, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center C-5 System Program Office.
The team will split into two groups and deploy to a dozen US bases over the summer. It hopes to develop the most complete picture of C-5 operations, maintenance, and logistics ever compiled.
Members will try to identify problems, offer solutions, and make recommendations for both short- and long-term improvements.
"With major modernization and re-engining projects approaching in the next several years, what we implement now through this effort will help us move smoothly through those future phases without a dip in C-5 availability," said Cromer.
Tricare Dental Plan Improved
Tricare's 2001 dental program will feature lower premiums, expanded service, and greater availability when it begins early next year.
In April the Department of Defense awarded a five-year, $1.8 billion contract to United Concordia Co., current administrator of the Tricare family member dental plan. Changes under the plan will take effect Feb. 1, 2001.
"One of the most significant changes is that reserve component members and their families will be eligible to enroll," said Navy Capt. Lawrence D. McKinley, the Tricare Management Activity's senior consultant for dentistry.
Premiums for active duty family members will drop from current levels during the first two years of the contract. They may rise thereafter "but will remain very reasonable," said McKinley.
The $21.33 family rate will be reduced to $19.08 in the first year, for instance.
Other improvements will include an increase in the annual maximum for general dentistry from $1,000 to $1,200 and expansion of coverage for diagnostic and preventative services.
Service Moves to Further Cut Smoking
The Air Force has decided to adopt some new anti-tobacco programs in its effort to eventually make the service smoke-free.
Twenty years ago more than half of the Air Force's personnel smoked. Today that percentage is down to 29 percent. But progress in driving the number still lower has stalled since 1995, convincing service health officials that they need to intensify their approach.
"We'd like to continue to see a downward trend and help to keep educating and informing people of the adverse effects of tobacco use," said Lt. Col. Wayne Talcott, DoD Alcohol Abuse and Tobacco Use Reduction Committee co-chairman.
The new programs and policies include a smoking ban in all Department of Defense facilities by 2002, tobacco cessation studies for basic trainees that help educate them on the effects of smoking over a long period of time, and a joint-service project to train smoking cessation facilitators.
The Air Force banned smoking in basic training in 1986. It began smoking cessation classes for smokers in 1980.
"Our No. 1 goal is prevention. ... We hope to catch those who are thinking about smoking or using tobacco products and deter them," said Talcott.
Sea-Based Missile Defense Unlikely
Sea-based assets are not part of the Pentagon's plan for national missile defense-at least not for now.
Pentagon officials say they realize that interceptors and radars based on ships might someday add another protective layer to their system of systems. But development of such equipment would take time, and right now the Defense Department needs to move as quickly as possible.
"Much more work needs to be done on the elements of a possible sea-based supplement to a land-based system," said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon.
Navy officials have been quietly planning for a future in which their developing regional theater missile-defense systems are upgraded for national missile defense duties.
But right now even those theater systems are experiencing development pains. Problems with the kinetic kill warhead are threatening to delay the Navy's Theater Wide missile defense project and could increase its costs.
The problem is that the materials used in the kill warhead's thrusters have not been able to withstand the tremendous temperatures they generate, reported Defense News on June 19. The high temperatures stem from the fact that the warhead must travel at tremendous speed to catch ballistic missile targets.
USAF Faces Civilian Employee Shortage
In five years more than 45 percent of the Air Force's civilian employees will be eligible for retirement-meaning that service leaders need to start planning now if they are to avoid a manpower shortage in the near future.
Air Force Materiel Command anticipates having to hire 26,000 people between now and 2007, for instance.
"This is just as serious a problem as the overall Air Force blue-suit recruitment issue," said Gen. Lester L. Lyles, AFMC commander. "The civilian work force---constituting 60 percent of our people--is part of our total force equation."
The civilian workforce has already shrunk substantially over recent years due to service downsizing. Ten years ago the Air Force employed roughly 260,000 civil service personnel. That number has shrunk to about 165,000 today.
Many of those who left were more junior personnel, leaving the Air Force top-heavy with senior civilians. Fully one-third of Defense Department civilians as a whole are now over 51.
Air Force leaders hope a new force-shaping and sustaining strategy will help them maintain the right mix of youth and experience in the years ahead.
To gain more accessions, the Air Force is looking at strategies such as greater investment in interns and other developmental trainees, to provide stability in sustainment efforts. A key here, too, is "to be more competitive in our hiring practices to recruit the best-qualified people in the current economy," said Roger Blanchard, assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel.
At AFMC, officials say they are now engaged in a significant recruitment effort. However, they stress that the Air Force needs legislation to ease hiring practices.
"The one instrument I need most, and has the broadest application, is a streamlined hiring authority," said Leif Peterson, director of civilian personnel for AFMC. "We have dated hiring authorities now that are time-consuming and cumbersome. We need one that addresses the competitive marketplace but still complies with public policy requirements and is responsive to the competition we now face."
Airborne Laser Gets Funds
When defense spending and authorization bills are wrapped up later this year it is likely that Congress will have restored most, if not all, of the $92 million the Air Force cut from the Airborne Laser program to pay operational bills.
In the Senate, both the authorization and money legislation have the $92 million added back. The funding increase is needed to keep ABL on track at least through its first planned intercept test, according to Senate aides.
House versions have added about $10 million less back to the ABL account. They also include language that would transfer authority for the ABL program from the Air Force to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization-the better, say House ABL proponents, to protect it from further Air Force-directed reductions.
That is a change Air Force leaders hope will be eliminated in House-Senate conference.
"This program was born in the Air Force, brought up in the Air Force, and deserves to be fielded by the Air Force," said Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan in a letter to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Floyd D. Spence (R-S.C.).
F-15s: Buy New or Buy Old?
A Boeing study commissioned by the Air Force concludes that the cost of building an F-15 can be cut by half-making it less expensive to build new Eagles than maintain old ones.
According to the study's figures, as reported by Jane's Defence Weekly on June 14, the Air National Guard would save between $6.5 billion and $8.9 billion over 20 years by buying 115 new redesigned F-15Cs instead of taking old ones from the Air Force and upgrading them, as current plans call for.
The cost savings would stem from improved manufacturing processes and from using less-expensive materials and components in some instances. The F-15C+ would replace a boron composite with another, slightly heavier material that is only one-tenth as expensive, for instance.
Britain Plans to Lease C-17s
The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense announced its intention to lease four Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters for the Royal Air Force beginning in 2001.
At first, aircrew training and maintenance support will be handled by the contractor and the US Air Force.
The order might give a boost to Boeing's offer to sell the US an additional 60 C-17s at a discount of about 25 percent. Currently, the Air Force has 120 C-17s on order.
It may also persuade other US allies to purchase the giant, modern airlifter. Countries which have reportedly expressed interest include France, Germany, Canada, and Australia.
Portugal Joins F-16 Consortium
Portugal joined the F-16 Multinational Fighter Program in a signing ceremony held at NATO headquarters June 9.
Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and the United States are the other members of the program, which was founded to develop and produce the Fighting Falcon. Its goal now is joint work on long-term upgrades and sustainment of each nation's F-16 fleet.
"The addition of Portugal into the [Multinational Fighter Program] improves the affordability and continued superior performance of upgraded F-16s well into the 21st century," said Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
For its next move, the group will explore a multinational purchase of precision guided munitions. Such a group buy should reduce PGM unit costs.
"Since the Kosovo campaign, the US has pressed its NATO allies to improve their precision strike capabilities in order to better share the responsibilities in the event of a future air operation," said Cohen.
US, Russia Clash on Missile Defense
The June summit between President Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin only served to highlight the deep differences between the US and Russia on the pressing question of missile defense.
Putin rejected Clinton's call for a change in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty that would allow the US to build a ground-based defense against incoming nuclear warheads. He surprised US officials by floating his own proposal, in return: mutual construction of a defense designed to attack ballistic missiles in their boost phase.
While some US experts said there could be intriguing technical aspects to the Russian proposal, most dismissed it as more politics than policy.
"At this point, it's an idea that does not, at least to me, appear to be feasible or desirable for protecting us against the kinds of threats that are emerging," said Secretary of Defense William Cohen, after Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev outlined the plan to NATO officials on June 9.
Details of the Russian plan remain sketchy. According to Cohen, it would consist of two main elements.
The first would be a layer of defenses intended to protect the US and Russian homelands by destroying rogue state missiles in their vulnerable, slow-rising boost phase. This would require basing interceptor missiles near their possible targets. North Korea, for example, could be deterred by the placement of defenses in South Korea or on ships in the Sea of Japan.
The second layer would use theater ABM systems to protect Europe. Such defenses, designed primarily to counter short- and medium-range weapons, are allowed under the terms of the ABM pact.
Construction of the European layer could proceed apace with currently planned equipment. But the boost phase defenses, if they are to be effective, could take quite a bit longer. It is doubtful they could be ready by 2005, the current deadline for construction of the Clinton Administration's planned first defense phase.
"We are willing to listen to proposals about a boost-phase intercept system, but our understanding is that it requires a great deal of technical challenge," said Cohen.
Pentagon officials consider it a victory of sorts to get Russia to talk about any kind of missile defense, whether its form is acceptable to the US or not. For the Kremlin to do so means that it implicitly acknowledges that there is a threat to the world at large from the missile programs of North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and other nations of concern.
But summit results clearly showed that the Kremlin does not share Washington's sense of urgency about this developing threat.
USAF Faces Severe Hurricane Season
Air Force bases located in the hurricane-prone eastern region of the US are girding themselves for an extra-difficult hurricane season this year, say Air Force officials.
A typical hurricane season (June 1 through Nov. 30) features nine storms that become severe enough to earn names and six full-blown hurricanes, with two hurricanes rated Category 3 or higher. But due to changing ocean current cycles, forecasters expect this year to be particularly severe, with 11 named storms and seven hurricanes, with three Category 3 superstorms.
That means that base evacuations may be more likely this summer. Last year the Air Force evacuated people and aircraft from 25 installations that were located in Hurricane Floyd's predicated Atlantic coast path.
"One life lost is too many, and in the case of an aircraft, a single aircraft may cost between $15 [million] and $150 million," said Col. Michael A. Neyland, Air Force deputy director of weather. "On the other hand, it might only cost $1 million to evacuate a base."
Floyd, a Category 4 storm, caused $2 million in damage to Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. Its 155 mph winds were just the sort of weather that the service wants to protect itself against.
But winds are not the only problem. Flooding from heavy rainfall or storm surge can be more damaging to buildings than wind. And hurricanes often create weather conditions that are conducive to tornado development.
"Hurricane Andrew's devastation of south Florida, including Homestead AFB, was worsened by tornadoes spawned by the hurricane," says Lt. Col. Harold A. Elkins, chief of the weather operations division at the Pentagon.
Air Force Dedicates B-2 to America
A July 14 USAF ceremony at Langley AFB, Va., was selected for the official naming of the newest USAF B-2 stealth bomber-Spirit of America.
Plans called for putting on display the 21st and final B-2 stealth bomber, which would give spectators a rare opportunity to get a close-up look at the advanced aircraft.
The name of the last aircraft marked a departure of sorts for the Air Force. Nineteen of the previous 20 B-2s were named after states. One is called Spirit of Kitty Hawk, but it represents the state of North Carolina.
Navy, Boeing Shake Hands on Super Hornet Deal
The Navy awarded Boeing an $8.9 billion contract to build a total of 222 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets over five years.
Boeing announced the deal June 16. The Super Hornet is the Navy's latest carrier-based fighter.
Boeing said the Navy will purchase 36 aircraft this year, 41 next year, and 48 in each of the following three years.
The new fighter is "the cornerstone of the future of naval aviation," said Adm. Jay Johnson, Chief of Naval Operations.
Boeing now has orders for 284 Super Hornets of which 22 have been delivered on time or ahead of schedule. The Navy plans to buy a minimum of 548 of the aircraft.
The Pentagon has dropped the idea of splitting the Joint Strike Fighter contract and spreading around the work to bolster the fighter industrial base. It's not needed, said officials.
According to DoD, aircraft producers will in the next 20 years have sufficient work-in particular, production of unmanned aerial vehicles and upgrading of older aircraft-to maintain a strong business base.
The last two US fighter-makers-Boeing and Lockheed Martin-are locked in a hot, winner-take-all battle to build JSFs.
Some in Congress, concerned about the industry's health, wanted to change the JSF program to allow competitive production. Lawmakers feared that the JSF loser would be forced out of the military airplane business entirely. Recent Congressional action to bring about those changes also would slow it down.
This worried DoD officials. Pentagon acquisition chief Jacques Gansler told a June 22 news conference that Congress had no justification for further delay and that maintaining the JSF schedule is "critical."
Gansler said he is "very confident that we will [buy] unmanned vehicles [in] significant volume in the future." Some of these will be combat aircraft, he noted, and this will represent a substantial amount of work for airframe houses.
He predicted service-life extensions and modifications for the Navy F/A-18, long-term foreign military sales of the latest models of the Air Force F-16, and work on the USAF F-22 program. All would contribute to the industry's business base.
"We have quite a bit of work in those plants," Gansler reported. "It was for that reason that I didn't think industry base considerations should drive this decision as much as the pure economics of it."
The contract, which Gansler pegged at $200 billion to $400 billion-will remain a winner-take-all contest.
On the same day, Defense Secretary William Cohen released the text of a letter to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. The letter explained the Pentagon's desire to press on with the program and presented its findings on the industrial base issue.
Gansler said DoD analysts, after several months of review, could find no cost benefits to splitting up the JSF's contract, despite substantial "empirical evidence" that competition yields lower cost and better product performance. While competition has worked well on engines and missiles, Gansler said, it has never been attempted "on something this large" or as complex as an entire modern combat aircraft.
Weighing against the notion of competitive production were two key factors: the high cost of building duplicate tooling and the inefficiency of building JSFs in small lots in two separate locations. Moreover, said Gansler, the need to set up and qualify a second source would bring costly delays.
Even so, the Pentagon commissioned Rand to make an independent study of the issue. The study, which will have no DoD input, is due by year's end.
The Pentagon's decision does not preclude all competition. Gansler said there is competition on many levels of subcontracts, such as for the engines. "There are other ways of bringing in competition," he added.
The JSF program managers at Boeing and Lockheed Martin have said they would likely award the loser a share of the work to take advantage of expertise and industrial capacity.
Gansler said it is critical to stick with the timing of the program because that is the only way to meet the needs of the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. In any new delay, said Gansler, the Air Force would be hardest hit.
Starting in 2009, there will be a "rapid falloff" of F-16s, as the fleet surpasses its design service life of 6,000 hours per airplane, Gansler said. Even on the present schedule, the JSF won't be fielded in numbers until 2011, and so the Air Force will still have to spend "a couple of billion dollars on upgrading the F-16s" to keep them going long enough.
The Air Force has a stated requirement for 1,763 of the new aircraft.
The Marine Corps passed on a chance to buy the F/A-18E/F, deferring a replacement buy so it could buy 609 models of a short takeoff and vertical landing JSF variant, which is also to be a supersonic fighter. The Marines are to receive the first JSFs, in 2010, since the AV-8Bs the service now flies will have run through their already extended service lives by then.
The Navy's slightly larger version of the JSF, of which 480 are planned, would not start arriving in the fleet until after 2012.
"That's the reason why it's so important not to let the schedule slip," Gansler explained. "Dollar reductions [by Congress], of course, result directly in schedule slips."
Timing Is "Critical"
Both industry and the Pentagon estimate an overseas market for the JSF at about 3,000 aircraft, making it, according to Cohen's letter, "critical to the modernization of our ally forces for coalition warfare."
Gansler said tri-service procurement of highly similar aircraft will yield $15 billion in development savings and many additional billions of savings stemming from reduced support and training costs.
In addition, said Gansler, the JSF's huge production run will bring about a low unit cost. That, coupled with the fighter's high combat capability, will make JSF unbeatable in the foreign military sales arena. Foreign competitors will find it "almost impossible" to stay up in the global market. Said Gansler, "It's just going to be awfully difficult to come up with an airplane in this price range-this stealthy, and with advanced avionics, and with all these [new] weapons on it."
Unit cost of the JSF will be $30 million to $35 million, depending on the variant, said Gansler.
The two contractors will submit their proposals in November, and the Pentagon plans to select a winner next spring. Flying demonstrators-not full-up prototypes-will be tested this summer, with testing continuing into next spring. Besides stealth, manufacturing processes and materials, the demonstrators will prove the companies' approach to achieving short takeoff and vertical landing in a supersonic airplane, what Gansler called the most challenging design feature.
Britain is a full partner on the program, and British officials will sit on the source selection committee choosing a winner. Though Britain's largest military supplier, BAE Systems, is partnered with Lockheed Martin, Gansler said he expects London to be impartial in its choice, basing its decision on performance and cost rather than British industrial base considerations.
Gansler said the JSF may be the last manned fighter built by the United States.
-John A. Tirpak
Despite signs of a political thaw on the Korean peninsula, US forces there aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
That's the word from top US military and diplomatic officials in the wake of the historic and unprecedented June meeting between South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean President Kim Jong Il.
They say that the US military presence in South Korea-currently about 37,000 US Air Force and US Army troops-remains critical to the security of the region, and no reductions are contemplated at this time.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said that, even if reunification occurs, South Korean President Kim wants US troops to stay as a regional stabilizing force.
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright publicly emphasized that the US troops would not be withdrawn any time soon. With South Korea's foreign minister at her side, she said talk of reducing or withdrawing American troops was "not appropriate" and "premature."
Foreign Minister Joung Binn Lee, responding to a question stated, "American forces will be needed here even after the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula." He noted that South Korean President Kim made it very clear that US troops play a vital role for stability.
On June 8, the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., held a seminar on Operation Allied Force, NATO's air war against Yugoslavia. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, delivered the keynote address, part of which postulated a major land-force role in NATO's victory. Excerpts:
"In the summer of 1998, ... we looked at about a dozen ground options. Two involved forced entry into Yugoslavia. One, an entry into Kosovo. One, an entry into Serbia itself. We estimated at the time it would be about 75,000 combat troops for the Kosovo operation and about 200,000-plus combat troops to go all the way in. This was on the shelf. It was one of the concept plans that was used, reviewed by NATO leadership, and it was always present in our thoughts. ...
"The strategy was to announce a threat, make a threat. If that didn't work, to carry out the threat of air. If that didn't work, to move to the next level, and that next level would have been ground.
"As we were working in early April, beginning our SHAPE assessment very privately in my headquarters, we had on the ground already 11,000 troops with the ACE [Allied Command Europe] Rapid Reaction Corps in Macedonia. By late April, we had Task Force Hawk and ACE Mobile Force-Land on the ground in Albania, with the US V Corps headquarters. ... And by early June, we'd announced the buildup of the forces to fill out the full 50,000-plus requirement of the Kosovo force. So we had forces flowing again into Macedonia. ...
"I would suggest it was elementary logic for Milosevic to conclude that something bad-very bad-was going to happen to his forces in Kosovo, and relatively soon. ... It had nothing to do, in my view, with declaratory statements; it had everything to do with the capabilities of the force on the ground. ...
"Some people thought that ground forces really didn't play. Let me just talk for a moment about Task Force Hawk. ... It had a corps headquarters, two dozen Apache helicopters, and a bunch of other helicopters with it. It was a mixed heavy-light brigade on the ground with tanks. It had multiple-launch rocket systems-155 mm, 105 mm artillery; key elements from the corps headquarters; very robust logistics and communications. It was a full joint strike force. It was a lot more than 24 helicopters.
"It deployed in less than 30 days from a virtual standing start into a restricted airfield in adverse weather in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. It was trained and ready to go by the required date, and it had strategic impact. ... These ground forces signaled resolve, demonstrated capabilities, stabilized both Albania and Macedonia, enhanced the targeting of fielded forces, gave credibility to the ground threat, and then let us go quickly into [Kosovo] at the end of the fighting."
Fifty years after the beginning of the Korean War, the Pentagon has issued a clarification emphasizing that 33,686 US troops died in that conflict-not 54,246, as is commonly reported.
Sources from the Encyclopedia Britannica to the Korean War Memorial in Washington repeat the higher figure. The mistake stems from a government statistician who at some point in the past took the number of combat deaths in Korea--33,686--and added the number of non-battlefield deaths--20,560--that occurred in the US military during the Korean War years.
But most of those non-battlefield deaths occurred far from Asia, at US or European bases and in training exercises. The number of non-battlefield deaths that took place in the Korean theater of operations is 2,830.
If nothing else, the clarification highlights how much safer day-to-day military operations have become. About 17,000 US military members died outside the Korean theater between 1950 and 1953. That's about double today's peacetime death rate, even after adjusting for the different number of troops involved.
"We have made incredible strides in reducing the number of non-combat accidental deaths, training deaths, and things of that sort in recent years," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley June 6.
The Air Force has approved 11 retention initiatives culled from suggestions made by focus groups at 11 bases and intends to put them in practice as soon as possible.
The initiative list is the culmination of a retention summit effort that began in January and has progressed through worldwide focus groups and senior leadership briefings.
"We learned people were primarily concerned about issues such as Tricare, spouse employment, retraining, and lack of communication from leadership," said Lt. Col. Jan Middleton, chief of USAF retention policy, personnel.
Approved initiatives include:
Another eight initiatives were recommended but need additional work.
The Regrets of Jane Fonda
She still hasn't actually apologized. Instead, Jane Fonda now informs us that she feels just awful about her posing for the infamous 1972 photo with North Vietnamese soldiers.
The photo depicted the screen actress and anti-war activist seated in a North Vietnamese air defense battery as if on guard to shoot down any intruding US aircraft. The event left her indelibly branded as "Hanoi Jane."
"I will go to my grave regretting the photograph, ... which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes," she said.
Fonda, 62, revealed her thoughts to television personality Oprah Winfrey, who interviewed the aging actress for the July-August issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
What did she regret about her appearance in the photo?
"It hurt so many soldiers," said Fonda. "It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless."
The Air Force on June 16 announced its top enlisted members-the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2000.
The 12 are authorized to wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon with bronze service star device. Each will be honored at the Air Force Association's National Convention this September in Washington, D.C.
The selectees are:
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