Pentagon Releases F-22 Funds
The Department of Defense released $1.2 billion for the F-22 program Dec. 10, following an internal review of the program's status led by DoD acquisition chief Jacques S. Gansler.
The money will allow the Air Force to buy six more F-22 airframes, currently designated as production representative test vehicles, at a cost of $805 million. Air Force officials will also be able to plunk down $275 million for long-lead items for a follow-on batch of 10 more aircraft.
The bottom line of the action is that the efforts by some in Congress to eliminate or alter the F-22 program have come to naught, for the moment. The program must meet a number of demanding criteria if it is to continue on track for next year, however.
Delivery of the production representative test vehicles is scheduled to continue through 2002. The follow-on aircraft, the first F-22s designated as production airframes, are scheduled to begin rolling off the assembly line in early 2003.
Fighting Forces Ready, Says Cohen
US forces that would be first sent to a conflict are indeed ready to fight, said Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen in late November.
Low readiness ratings for two Army divisions-the 1st Infantry and the 10th Mountain-reflected the fact that some of their units were deployed in Bosnia and Kosovo, said Cohen. Commanding officers were worried that these elements would not be able to disengage from their Balkans duties and move to another trouble spot, as needed to meet war requirements.
"All our forward deployed forces still are in a very high state of readiness, the highest, because they are the ones who may be called upon to go into battle," Cohen told the American Forces Press Service.
The Army is changing its reporting procedures to take dual-mission units into account, said officials. The Defense Department is also drawing up plans to compress the time it takes to retrain and redeploy units.
Balkans commitments have worn on the Air Force, as well. Air Force units will not have fully recovered from the exertions of Operation Allied Force for almost a year or even longer.
Last October Gen. John P. Jumper, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, told a House Armed Services subcommittee, "The Air Force is expected to return to full strength again by March 1, 2000, barring any new contingencies."
Then, in late December, Gen. (sel.) Gregory S. Martin, who replaced Jumper at USAFE last month, told Defense Week, "We're another six months away from seeing the majority of the force begin to see a climb [in mission capable rates]."
Martin agreed that at that rate the Air Force will not return to its preKosovo readiness levels until fall 2000. Thus, it will have taken the service 16 months to retrain and replenish stocks following a conflict that was just over two months long.
NATO Details Kosovo Progress
Though instances of ethnic violence are still occurring in Kosovo, NATO says significant reconstruction progress has been made in the nominally Serbian province since the end of Operation Allied Force in June.
The presence of allied troops is what has made progress possible, said German Lt. Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, commander of the Kosovo peacekeeping operation, at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 2. The Kosovo force is now made up of almost 50,000 personnel, from 24 different countries.
NATO's winterization project-which aims at enabling all Kosovar families to heat at least one room of their homes-is 70 percent complete, said Reinhardt. In addition, more than 810,000 refugees had returned to the province as of early December. At the height of Serb forces' cleansing campaign against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, some 1.4 million people had fled or were hiding in the hills.
NATO troops have removed mines and unexploded ordnance from 544 schools. Ordnance teams had cleared 7,400 bomblets, 6,130 anti-personnel mines, and 3,400 anti-tank mines by last November.
Revenge attacks against Serbian Kosovars continue. But the situation is much improved, claimed Reinhardt. When NATO moved in last summer the murder rate in Kosovo was an estimated 190 per 100,000 people. Today the rate is 25 per 100,000, Reinhardt said.
Tensions Persist in Balkans, SACEUR Says
Kosovo may be quieter, but tensions persist in other parts of the Balkans, US Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, noted at a Dec. 9 Pentagon press conference.
New trouble is brewing in Montenegro, a proWestern republic of the rump Yugoslavia that is south of Bosnia and west of Kosovo. Montenegrin leaders have taken steps aimed at greater independence from Serbia, Yugoslavia's largest republic. Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic responded initially with intimidation tactics.
On Dec. 8, Milosevic sent Serb troops to seize control of Montenegro's main airport. Trucks blocked the runway and soldiers seized the control tower, briefly banning all flights.
"We are seeing a whole series of low-level, but worrisome, developments as we watch the pattern of Serb activities in this area," said Clark. "We don't pretend to know what Mr. Milosevic's final intent is. We are certainly watching very closely."
In late December, news reports stated that Milosevic said Montenegro may leave Yugoslavia if its citizens vote to do so. Montenegrin officials had announced plans for a referendum in 2000.
Bosnia-riven by civil war and now controlled by an allied peacekeeping force-remains stable. Armed forces from the country's two entities, the Serbdominated Republic of Srpska and a Bosnian/Croatpopulated federation, are working together in a more cooperative manner than ever before, said Clark.
"They've just agreed on a 15 percent reduction in their armed forces, and the initial reductions toward that have been taken," he said.
Some 60,000 Bosnian refugees returned in 1999. NATO forces took 28 war criminals into detention, and more surrendered voluntarily.
Electoral and security problems remain.
"Economic development and illegal institutions are two areas that are of the greatest concern right now," said Clark. "The unemployment rate's over 40 percent."
When NATO troops entered Bosnia after the signing of the Dayton peace accords in December 1995 they numbered some 60,000. Since then they have been reduced to 30,000 and are scheduled to fall to 20,000 in spring 2000.
About 6,200 US troops remain in Bosnia. That number is slated to drop to 3,900 by spring.
Navy and Marines Need to Grow, Think Tank Says
The US Navy and Marine Corps need more weapons platforms if they are to be contributors to future military operations, according to a new study from the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.
"Naval strike is executed by a variety of sea-based, air, surface, and submarine platforms, a third of which are routinely forward deployed," said the study. "But increasingly, there are not enough platforms. No matter how capable the submarine, aircraft carrier, destroyer, or plane, they cannot be in two places at once," said the study.
The Navy's carrier fleet, at 12, is three short of meeting minimum forward presence requirements, claimed the study. It urged the Navy to increase shipbuilding rates so that it can maintain at least a 300-ship fleet.
A possible shortage of attack submarines leads the study to suggest conversion of some retiring ballistic missile "boomers" into tactical missile shooters.
The Marines, for their part, need more V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to speed movement from carriers inland. A gunship variant of the V-22 would be particularly useful, said the report.
Anthrax Program Faces More Problems
The Pentagon's controversial effort to vaccinate all members of the US military against anthrax just keeps running into problems.
First, it was some service personnel refusing the shots, saying they believed the vaccine's efficacy and safety remain unproven. Now, a new anthrax vaccine production plant has failed to pass an FDA inspection-leading the Department of Defense to postpone the second phase of vaccinations for at least six months.
On Dec. 13, DoD officials announced that only troops deploying to the high-threat areas of Korea and the Persian Gulf will receive shots. It could take up to a year for the sole US producer of the vaccine, Bioport Corp., of Lansing, Mich., to bring its new high-volume facility on line.
"Frankly, it has been more difficult than the department and Bioport expected to move from a small state-regulated production facility to a large, modern production facility that meets the state-of-the-art FDA requirements," said Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
The old facility-since torn down to make way for the new one-rolled out only 2,000 doses per month. The new one is expected to produce a maximum of 400,000 per month.
An FDA inspection found about 30 deficiencies in the new plant that must be addressed before it can be certified. Until then, the Pentagon will use a stockpile of one million doses produced at the old facility for high-priority inoculations.
So far 383,000 personnel have received the anthrax shots, according to DoD. Officials estimate the Pentagon is currently using about 75,000 per month to handle troops deploying to the high-threat areas.
Boeing Unveils JSF Demonstrators
Boeing showed off its X-32 Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrators in public for the first time Dec. 14. An estimated 5,500 people watched via live satellite feed when the gray aircraft-not yet ready for flight-were rolled out at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. (Photo on p. 17.)
The X-32A flight demonstrator will be used to test conventional landing and takeoff capabilities for the US Air Force and carrier approaches for the US Navy, said Boeing officials. The slightly different X-32B will be used to demonstrate short takeoff/vertical landing requirements for the US Marines and the Royal Air Force and Navy.
The airplanes will be ready for flight this spring, said Boeing, following engine and flight-control tests.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are both working on JSF demonstrators. The Defense Department is scheduled to select a winner in early 2001 for a program that could be worth upward of $750 billion over the next 30 years.
Cohen Puts Off Cuts in Army Guard, Reserve
On Dec. 20, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced that he is deferring implementation of a further 25,000-person reduction in Army Reserve component end strength called for by the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review. QDRrecommended cuts of 17,000 people in the Army National Guard and 3,000 in the Army Reserve have already been carried out. Three factors compelled him to make his decision, Cohen said.
For one, the Guard and Reserve are playing an increasingly important role in Total Force operations. Today the Defense Department cannot sustain operations anywhere in the world without calling on the National Guard and Reserve, said Cohen.
Another factor was new Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki's re-examination of his service's structure and missions, with an eye toward constructing an Army of the future. He is also redesigning Army Guard divisions. Any cuts to Guard and Reserve forces could hinder these initiatives, noted Cohen.
Finally, another QDR is coming up-results are scheduled for release in 2001-and will "provide another opportunity to analyze existing circumstances and future requirements."
The prospective reductions had been drawing increasing opposition from a wide spectrum of sources. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) sent Cohen a letter in November opposing the reductions. If the Defense Department insisted on asking for the cuts, wrote Lott, he would insist on proportionate reductions-in other words, the active force would suffer, along with the Guard and Reserve.
A bipartisan group of 58 senators sent a similar missive on Dec. 7. The National Governors' Association also opposed the plan.
Military associations were pleased at Cohen's deferral decision.
"Defense Secretary William Cohen's reasons for delaying the cuts of 25,000 were the same ones contained in a historic letter from the three associations to him this summer," noted Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.), president of the Association of the United States Army.
Deal Offered in Chinese Embassy Bombing
US officials struck a bargain with the Chinese government Dec. 16 that calls for the payment of $28 million in compensation for the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, during Operation Allied Force.
China, in turn, agreed to pay the US nearly $2.9 million for damage done to the US Embassy in Beijing by antiAmerican demonstrations in the wake of the bombing.
Three people were killed and 27 wounded in what was one of Allied Force's worst instances of collateral damage. The US has already settled on a separate $4.5 million payment to the families of the deceased.
US officials called the bombing a tragic mistake, saying out-of-date maps and a chain of human error led to targeting a building that should have been off-limits for allied bombs. The Chinese government has been reluctant to accept this explanation, and anger over the incident remains widespread in China.
DoE Says Stockpile Stewardship Is OK
A Department of Energy review released Dec. 10 said that DoE's stockpile stewardship program-an effort to maintain the safety and efficacy of the nation's nuclear arsenal without nuclear testing-has proved effective.
Stockpile stewardship officials have completed both specific science tasks and developed a management structure that improves the certification process, said the report.
"Every year we've seen important advances in the science and capabilities needed to maintain these weapons without nuclear testing, and we believe this progress will continue," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson.
Among the accomplishments the stockpile stewardship report cites are:
Delivery of refurbished W87 Peacekeeper warheads to DoD.
Development and deployment of the B61-11 bomb, replacing the less-safe B53.
Renewed production of neutron generators, a component of all nuclear weapons.
Initiation of life extension studies for the W76 Trident missile warhead and W80 strategic cruise missile warhead.
Assurance of a continued supply of tritium, a radioactive gas used in nuclear weapons that must be occasionally replenished.
Among the tasks still ahead are recruitment of a new generation of scientists to work in DoE's nuclear programs, said the report.
USAF Releases Review of Launch Failures
A premature shift in attention from existing launch programs to the next-generation Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles is one of the underlying causes of the recent string of US space launch failures, according to an Air Force-led review.
Both the US government and the contractors involved curtailed essential fly-out activities as they began looking to future systems, concluded the broad area review, which was headed by retired Gen. Larry D. Welch, former Air Force Chief of Staff.
Yet the US cannot afford such a "going out of business" mind-set, said officials involved in the review. Some $20 billion in national assets is still scheduled for launch on older expendable launch vehicle systems.
"A significant amount of resources and operational capability remain associated with the fly-out programs," concluded the review.
President Clinton has already ordered Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen to implement the recommendations of the DoD Assessment of Space Launch Failures report. These include:
Ryan Praises Pacific Air Forces
Pacific Air Forces will stay just the way it is, according to Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan. PACAF is vital to stability in a part of the world that is critical to US national security-and becoming more important by the day.
That means no major changes in force structure.
"The ability to rapidly reinforce, particularly in Korea, from PACAF bases is critical and will be for a long time to come," said Ryan on a December visit to Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
The roll out of the Expeditionary Aerospace Force is going well so far, the Chief added.
Four Aerospace Expeditionary Forces had deployed or were in the process of deploying by midDecember, he said. It is a concept that continues to be refined.
"AEFs five and six will be the first to use team effort in our expeditionary combat support elements," said Ryan. "That is, instead of having Palace Tenure select people from all over the world and show up as 35 individual firefighters, we will have units come forward [that] have worked together before." (Palace Tenure is the program that manages the selection of individuals, as opposed to units, needed to support contingency operations.)
The Chief said he continues to work on bolstering combat support for expeditionary units, via use of both Guard and Reserve, as well as active duty, personnel.
"We're adding 3,200 manpower positions to the combat support piece of our Air Force so that we don't take too large a chunk away from a base at any one time," he said.
The Charter Chiefs Remember
Charter chiefs celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the rank of chief master sergeant in the Air Force at a reunion dinner at Offutt AFB, Neb., last November.
Before Dec. 1, 1958, the highest grade that any enlisted person in the military could attain was E-7. But Congress, concerned about promotion stagnation, passed a career compensation act that allowed all the services to promote 2 percent of their enlisted force into a new E-8 grade and 1 percent into E-9.
Thus senior master sergeants and chief master sergeants were born.
Retired CMSgt. James Flaschenriem began his military career as an Army Air Corps corporal. He never expected to last long in the armed services-but in 1958 he was one of the chosen few.
He was 31 years old and had 11 years of service. At first, no one knew what to make of his new rank.
"We were just another sergeant," Flaschenriem said. "We weren't addressed as chiefs. At that time, there were still [Air Force] warrant officers on duty and they were referred to as 'chief.' "
Retired CMSgt. Theodore Brewer was another charter chief, one of the first selected. At the time he was with the 2nd Air Force inspector general team at Laughlin AFB, Texas.
The evening the first list came out, the base commander had all of Brewer's uniforms taken to the parachute shop for his new stripes to be sewn on. He walked out of his door, resplendent in his new rank, early the next day.
Not that his colleagues were necessarily impressed. "When we first made chief, they didn't know what to do with us," Brewer said.
Dyess Gets Upgraded B-1 Bombers
The first Block D upgraded B-1 bombers have started to arrive at the 28th Bomb Squadron, Dyess AFB, Texas. The improvements, carried out at the Oklahoma Air Logistics Center, Tinker AFB, Okla., give the Lancer near-precision weapons and advanced secure communications capabilities.
"This means more to us than just a Block D upgrade," said Col. Douglas Raaberg, 7th Operations Group commander. "This is the biggest change since Dyess received the first B-1 more than 13 years ago."
Without the improved weapons and targeting systems of Block D, Lancers are capable of dropping only dumb iron bombs. With near-precision capability, the B-1 becomes a much more flexible tool for national command authorities. Minor upgrades in the future will also give the aircraft the capability to carry precision 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
In addition to the Block D upgrade, the B-1s will receive a towed decoy system that deploys in flight and is intended to lure incoming missiles away from the aircraft.
The first Block D aircraft was delivered to the 28th Bomb Squadron in November. Dyess was projected to have four Block D B-1s, with the new decoy system already installed, by the end of January. All Lancers based at the Texas installation are scheduled to be upgraded by May 2004.
The 28th is the B-1 community's only formal aircrew training unit, and it will soon have the opportunity to spread its Block D knowledge around the country. "The other B-1 bases are asking us to send them Block D qualified people," said Maj. Matt Bartlett, chief of wing standardization and evaluation. "Having the upgraded planes here allows us to train these aircrews and send Ellsworth AFB [S.D.], Mountain Home AFB [Idaho], McConnell AFB [Kan.], and Robins AFB [Ga.] Block D qualified people."
Crash Landing in Kuwait Kills Three
Three Air Force members were killed and 17 others injured when an Air Force C-130 attempted to land at Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, on Dec. 10. It made an emergency landing at Kuwait City IAP, instead.
Killed were Capt. Michael D. Geragosian, 66th Rescue Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev.; A1C Benjamin T. Hall, 90th Transportation Sq., F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; and A1C Warren T. Willis, 55th Transportation Sq., Offutt AFB, Neb.
The aircraft, from the 61st Aircraft Squadron, Little Rock AFB, Ark., was carrying 86 US military personnel and had a crew of eight. It was on a routine mission ferrying troops between two bases in Kuwait.
According to a Dec. 20 Air Force news release, the three airmen, sitting in the fuselage area where the main landing gear attaches to the frame, were fatally injured when the C-130 hit the ground off the runway at Al Jaber.
"The aircraft, for reasons yet to be determined, impacted the ground approximately 2,895 feet short and about 40 feet left of the runway centerline," stated the Air Force. The crew got the aircraft airborne after the impact, but the C-130 had received "extensive damage to its main landing gear assemblies and to the adjacent fuselage areas. Part of the left main landing gear detached from the aircraft shortly after the impact."
After the aircraft regained altitude, the aircrew declared an emergency and diverted to the country's only international airport, where crews sprayed foam on the runway prior to an emergency belly landing.
Air Force officials credited quick action on the part of Kuwaiti emergency response crews for preventing further loss of life from the crash.
Both Kuwait and the United States are continuing to investigate the accident.
C-130J Fate Up in Air
The fate of the C-130J was uncertain in midDecember as Air Force officials mulled pushing the program back in favor of such high-priority projects as the F-22.
Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters said he sees no requirement for the C-130J until 2011 and that existing models of the workhorse Hercules won't have to start retiring for a decade-but added that he wouldn't be "thrilled" to see the C-130 line close-the likely result if the program is substantially delayed.
"It's just a question of: It's a lot of money," Peters told Defense Week.
One hundred fifty new C-130Js would cost about $8 billion.
By contrast, Lockheed Martin has been pushing for the Air Force to start buying the C-130J in 2001, one year before the current schedule calls for. Lockheed Martin officials have been offering discounts of up to 15 percent per airplane if the Air Force commits in 2001 to a multiyear procurement.
USAF Looks at Fixes for C-17 Airdrop
It will be at least two years before the Air Force can fix problems that currently prevent C-17 airlifters from dropping a brigade of paratroopers as fast as Army requirements call for.
Defense Week reporters talked with Army and Air Force officials late last year about the problem.
The strategic brigade airdrop is supposed to be completed in 30 minutes, to allow the paratroopers to group quickly on the ground and thus minimize casualties from any resistance. Globemasters take 51 minutes to complete this maneuver, however. Due to the turbulence they produce, the large aircraft cannot fly close enough together to meet the 30-minute deadline. In addition, electronic systems limit the number of C-17s that can fly together in a paratroop formation.
Among the possible solutions the Army and Air Force are studying:
Until C-17s can meet the 30-minute standard, C-141 Starlifters will continue to serve as the paratroop workhorse. The C-141 is set to retire in 2004--meaning the Air Force has only a few years to fix the problem.
John W.R. Taylor, 77, editor of Jane's All the World's Aircraft from 1959 to 1989 and arguably the foremost author and editor ever on the subject of flying machines, died Dec. 12 in Kingston, Surrey, England. He was also the author or co-author of more than 200 books.
Under his editorship, the annual editions of Jane's were recognized as the most authoritative sources in the world for detailed information about airplanes. Taylor said he preferred to concentrate on the "ironmongery" of aircraft and avoid political issues. Faithful to that direction, he established a reputation for both fairness and accuracy. To some extent, he even received data from the Russians at the height of the Cold War.
From 1971 until 1997, Taylor was contributing editor to Air Force Magazine. Among his other work for this magazine, he originated "Gallery of USAF Weapons," which appears each May in the Almanac issue. The gallery is now done by Taylor's daughter, Susan H.H. Young.
UN Tribunal Drops Investigation of NATO for War Crimes
The staff of the UN war crimes tribunal spent four months studying whether NATO commanders and pilots violated international law in their conduct of air operations against Yugoslavia last year.
The investigation and its preliminary report came to light Dec. 26 after the chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte of Switzerland, told a British newspaper that she was evaluating the report and was prepared to seek indictments if the evidence was incriminating.
A tribunal spokesman, Paul Risley, told The New York Times that "it is very important for this tribunal to assert its authority over any and all parties to the armed conflict within the former Yugoslavia."
The Times described the report as "a legal analysis of the basis for bringing charges of war crimes for NATO activities like the bombing of civilian power stations and bridges, which NATO said had military uses." The allegations also cited instances when civilians were killed or injured.
On Dec. 29, the White House denounced the investigation, saying that NATO had taken "extraordinary efforts to minimize collateral damage" and that "any inquiry into the conduct of its pilots would be completely unjustified."
On Dec. 30, Del Ponte backed away from her earlier readiness to seek indictments and issued a statement saying that "NATO is not under investigation" and that "there is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO."
Officials at tribunal headquarters at The Hague in the Netherlands sought to minimize the importance of the report. According to Risley, it will be filed for historians if Del Ponte does not press charges.
Michael Mandel, a law professor at York University in Toronto, said that in November, he and his colleagues gave Del Ponte "three thick volumes of evidence" against NATO leaders, who he said "are as guilty" of war crimes as Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic is.
The Pentagon said the prosecutor's office had not sought any information from the Department of Defense in preparing its report.
The tribunal staff began its inquiry in August at the direction of the former chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, who is an appeals court judge in Ontario and was formerly a law professor at York University. The staff has received accusations against NATO from the Serbs, Western journalists and academicians, and members of the Russian Duma.
The war crimes tribunal was set up in 1993 by the UN Security Council. Its charter is to bring charges against individuals, not governments. There is considerable enthusiasm in the international community for establishing more such bodies, but the ArbourDel Ponte affair will probably intensify resistance in the United States.
Ninety-two nations have already signed a treaty to create a UN International Criminal Court modeled on the war crimes tribunal. Even though the United States has not signed this treaty, US citizens would be subject to arrest and trial. Of special concern is the possibility of politically motivated prosecution of members of the armed forces stationed abroad.
In an action filed formally with yet another UN organization, the International Court of Justice, Yugoslavia on Jan. 4 accused the NATO nations of interfering with its internal affairs and violating its national sovereignty. The United States does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. The other NATO nations have until June to respond to Yugoslavia's suit.
-John T. Correll
Honk if You Hate Tricare
Long waiting lines. Few doctors. Slow pay. Oceans of red tape.
Everybody, it seems, has a complaint about Tricare, the Defense Department's embattled managed care health system. In the Dec. 20 Washington Times, one could find these comments:
Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), majority leader, in a December letter to President Clinton:
"The military medical and dental care system still does not provide benefits to all that have earned them and is possibly the single most important item affecting the quality of life of our service members, their families, and our retirees. ... Today, there are the same number of potential beneficiaries, some 8 million, as when we began the downsizing almost 10 years ago. But the resources allocated to military health care have decreased dramatically. We can no longer squeeze blood from this stone. Our servicemen and -women, their families, and our retirees deserve better."
Col. Chuck Partridge, USA (Ret.), legislative counsel for the National Association for Uniformed Services:
"The government has broken its promise. As an officer, I used to talk the troops into staying beyond their two-year commitment. 'You have this great health care program you never lose.' I figured I was telling the truth and I wasn't."
Capt. Stephen Pietropaoli, spokesman for Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
"It [Tricare] is certainly in the sights of the Chairman and the service chiefs for the year ahead because we see it as having a direct effect on our overall readiness, based upon retention and recruiting. ... There's no clear plan on this yet. We're working closely with the Secretary of Defense. ... If there's a lightning rod for concern and criticism from the troops, it's the Tricare system. It's not so much the quality of care once you break the code and get in the system. ... We've got really good health care providers. ... But when the system makes it so difficult to access your own medical care, there is something wrong."
Twenty Questions and the F-22
In its Dec. 20 issue, Defense Week published an interview with Maj. Gen. Claude M. Bolton Jr., the Air Force acquisition program executive officer for fighters and bombers. He had this to say about the F-22's avionics, a focus of concern and criticism on Capitol Hill:
"I mentioned the avionics bird, 4004. The avionics that goes into it has already been flight-tested today on the flying test bed, a converted [Boeing] 757. Prior to that, it was in a ground-based laboratory, one in Seattle and the other one down in Fort Worth [Texas]. Prior to that, it was in subcontractors. And everything's coming along so well that we are maintaining schedules that people told us a year ago, 'You can't do, you're going to slip, you're going to have problems.'
"Every time we sit down with folks who have been through this many, many times, with a great deal of experience, people I highly respect, they do the old 20 questions. They go through it all, and they just cannot find anything that we have not done and done correctly. So as a consequence there's a good possibility that we'll end up going through the avionics portion of this with far fewer problems than we ourselves
Yes, Yes, But What Else Have You Done?
Darleen A. Druyun, top USAF acquisition official, appeared Dec. 7 before a House subcommittee. She was asked whether the F-22 actually had been ready for production at the time that the House defense appropriations subcommittee was voting last summer to delay the program. She said:
"Yes, it [the F-22] absolutely was ready to enter into low-rate initial production of six airplanes. We have demonstrated supercruise. We have conducted weapons-bay open testing. By the end of December, it will have 500 flight-hours of testing. ... Thousands of hours of subsystem and component and subcomponent testing ... have taken place to date. We've been able to demonstrate high angle of attack, post-stall flight with thrust vectoring. We've demonstrated flight at 50,000 feet, and we've greatly expanded the flying envelope of the F-22. The fact remains, all of the criteria established in 1998 [by DoD officials], we satisfied."
In a Dec. 11 interview with CBS News Radio, President Bill Clinton said the controversial Defense Department policy on homosexuals in the military, "don't ask, don't tell," is not working as intended.
"The reason that I went for don't ask, don't tell [in 1993] is that it's all I could do, because I had a clear signal from the Congress that, if I implemented my policy, they would reverse it by overwhelming majorities. I didn't implement don't ask, don't tell until the Senate voted 68-32 against the policy that I wanted. So I think it's very important-for me, what's important is that the policy, as implemented, does not work as I announced it and as the leaders of our military at that time in '93 pledged to implement it. ... So what I would like to do is to focus on trying to make the policy that we announced back in '93 work the way it was intended to, because it's way-it's out of whack, now, and I don't think any serious person can say it's not."His statement came four days after First Lady Hillary Clinton told a group of gay campaign contributors in New York that if she is elected to the Senate, she will work to allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced Dec. 13 that the Pentagon Inspector General would conduct a spot-check survey to determine whether a harassing climate exists in the armed forces in regard to gay members and whether this is condoned by the command. The IG is to report back within 90 days.
Although harassment will not be tolerated, Cohen said Dec. 15 that "I do not expect the policy to be changed, certainly not during this Administration." In two media opportunities in December, Cohen expressed the policy as "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass."
The major Presidential candidates all took positions on the issue. Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley would allow homosexuals to serve openly. Sen. John McCain and Texas Gov. George W. Bush support the present don't ask, don't tell policy.
Gore initially went even further, saying twice on Jan. 5 that he would "insist, before appointing anybody to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that that individual support my policy. And, yes, I would make it a requirement." He backtracked from that position Jan. 7, saying that he had been misunderstood.
The controversy has been the subject of newspaper editorials from coast to coast, with the overwhelming majority of them calling for an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military.
By amazing coincidence, the Labor Government in Great Britain told The Times of London on Dec. 13 that it would move to end the ban on homosexuals in British armed forces, which it did officially on Jan. 12.
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