10 Killed in MC-130H Crash
A USAF MC-130H Combat Talon cargo aircraft crashed into a mountainside Aug. 7 about 15 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico. All 10 military personnel on board were killed, according to US Southern Command.
The special operations aircraft went down in heavy fog and rain during a nighttime training flight from NAS Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico to Borinquen Air National Guard Base on the west coast of Puerto Rico.
On Aug. 10, Air Force officials released the names of personnel killed. They were Majs. Michael J. Akos, aircraft commander, and Gregory W. Fritz, navigator; Capts. Christel A. Chavez, pilot, and Panuk P. Soomsawasdi, special tactics liaison officer; 1st Lt. Nathanial D. Buckley, electronic weapons officer; TSgts. Christopher A. Matero and Martin A. Tracy, both combat controllers, and Robert S. Johnson, flight engineer; and SSgts. Robert J. McGuire Jr., loadmaster, and Shane H. Kimmett, direct support operator.
Akos, Buckley, Chavez, Fritz, Johnson, and McGuire were assigned to the 16th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Soomsawasdi was with SOUTHCOM and based at Roosevelt Roads. Matero and Tracy were Kentucky Air National Guardsmen. Kimmett was assigned to Air Intelligence Agency, based in San Antonio.
Officials said a board would investigate the accident.
Air Force Ends Stop-Loss
The Air Force on Aug. 5 announced it would release the last officer and enlisted specialties from Stop-Loss beginning Sept. 1.
USAF implemented a servicewide Stop-Loss program last year shortly after the September terrorist attacks in the US. The program prevented all active duty and reserve members from separating or retiring from the service. The service re-evaluated its manpower needs every 60 days and adjusted the program three times, gradually drawing down the number of career fields affected.
The last review removed restrictions in late June from all but three officer and eight enlisted specialties.
In relieving Stop-Loss for the final 11 specialties, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche said the service had "arrived at a new steady state," making it possible for service leaders to honor their pledge not to "hold onto anyone longer than necessary."
USAF Extends 14,000 Reservists
The Air Force announced Aug. 16 that it will extend the mobilization of more than 14,000 Guard and Reserve members into a second year. The reservists are needed, said officials, to handle continuing requirements in the war on terror.
The majority of those 14,000 reservists are working in security forces, one of the service's most stressed career fields. Officials said they have not been able to meet USAF's expanded security forces requirements from within the active duty force.
Nearly 67 percent of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command members who are having their tours extended are filling security forces requirements, said John C. Truesdell, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for reserve affairs.
Among several initiatives the service is working on to alleviate stressed career fields, Truesdell said, are two legislative proposals specifically targeting security forces. The first would enable the Air Force to contract out certain administrative security forces functions, while the second would allow some currently restricted reserve categories to be used for national-level security forces requirements.
The two bills, said Truesdell, are not a cure-all. If approved, they will, along with other initiatives, reduce the number of reservists needed for a second year and return some predictability to their schedules, he added.
Nav, ABM Bonuses In Offing
Some navigators and Air Battle Managers may be in line for retention bonuses as part of the Fiscal 2003 defense budget authorization legislation, according to USAF officials.
The new bonuses would target specific groups of navigators and ABMs who are critical to USAF's warfighting capability, said Maj. Carlos Ortiz at the Pentagon.
"Nearly half of the navigator force will be retirement eligible in the next five years," he said. "The navigator bonus will be targeted primarily to retain the more senior navigators in the Air Force past their traditional retirement points."
Air Battle Managers are a critical, low-density, high-demand resource, making their retention equally important, said Ortiz. "The ABM career field is undermanned and has seen significant operations tempo increases."
Specific ABM systems that the bonus program will target are airborne warning and control, joint surveillance target and control, and ground tactical air control.
Details about the bonus program will be released within the next several months, said Ortiz.
USAF Changes Officer Promotion System
Service officials have made two significant promotion board changes--one impacts all officers, the other will increase promotion opportunities for officers meeting Oct. 3 promotion boards to major.
The first change, which took effect last month, removed mention of race, ethnicity, or gender in the officer selection briefs provided to promotion boards. This change, said officials, was made to ensure fairness and equity for all officers.
The second change raised the promotion rate to major from 90 percent to 95 percent.
During the armed forces drawdown of the 1990s, Air Force promotion rates to major hovered around 80 percent. In 1997, the service returned the rate for majors to its predrawdown level of 90 percent.
Officials said the improvement in promotion opportunity should enable the Air Force to adjust its long-term force strength and reach its goals for field grade officers.
V-22 Takes Heavy Hits
Top defense officials continued to express reservations about the troubled V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, saying even if it passes its flight tests it might not survive the money wars.
When asked about the V-22 in early August, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters that decisions on programs under review will be based on more than any one program itself. The V-22 is one of several programs DOD is reviewing prior to making Fiscal 2004 budget decisions this fall.
While Rumsfeld's comment was equivocal, Pentagon acquisition head Edward C. Aldridge left no doubt that he has little faith in Osprey's chances. He told reporters Aug. 8 that he had "real problems with the airplane."
The hybrid aircraft only returned to flight testing in May after being grounded since December 2000, following a second fatal crash that same year. An earlier fatal crash occurred in 1992.
Each of the services has maintained they need the aircraft, with USAF hoping it will replace aging special operations helicopters. The Marine Corps plans to buy 360 Ospreys, and the Navy and the Air Force plan to buy 50 each.
A special V-22 review panel, convened after the third fatal crash, concluded that flaws found in the aircraft could be overcome with design modifications. Last year the Pentagon approved changes to hydraulics lines, poorly designed engine nacelles, and defective flight software.
At that time, Aldridge said the only way to prove the case for the V-22 was to get the aircraft back into flight test. He also said there was no alternative for the Osprey.
In talking with reporters last month he said there is now a study under way to examine helicopter alternatives in lieu of the V-22 tilt-rotor.
AFOSI Recovers Laptops
USAF announced Aug. 12 that agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations tracked down two laptop computers reported missing from Central Command headquarters at MacDill AFB, Fla. The computers were recovered Aug. 9, just a week after they were declared missing.
OSI agents recovered the computers, which officials said contained highly sensitive information, at the home of a military member in the MacDill area. The individual was taken into custody, but officials would not release his identity until formal charges could be filed.
There was no indication that the suspect was connected to the leak of classified war plans to the New York Times in July, but a probe of that incident led to the discovery of the missing computers.
The Air Force sent 46 additional OSI agents to bolster the five normally assigned to MacDill to speed the missing laptop investigation. The agents quickly began interviewing everyone with access to the area where the computers had been kept. "That was a very, very long list of people," said Special Agent Jeffrey Vent.
As the interviews and investigation progressed, Vent said, the suspect's name surfaced, marking him as one of their "persons of interest." The suspect himself came up for interview about halfway through the access list.
During his interview, the suspect confessed and told the OSI agents where the laptops could be found. He also told them why he took the computers, but officials said his motive could only be released after it is revealed during court proceedings.
Court Says Instructions Deficient
A US Federal Appeals Court ruled that instructions the Air Force issued to its Reduction-in-Force boards in the mid-1990s were constitutionally deficient.
The ruling is based on a class action lawsuit filed by 623 former officers and two other lawsuits.
Air Force officials said, in an Aug. 12 release, that the court still must decide if any individuals were harmed by the defect in the memorandum of instructions. The lawsuits claim that RIF board members were instructed to apply different treatment based on race and gender.
The memo was five pages long, with the contested language contained in one paragraph.
USAF officials said that, at the time it was issued, the language was believed to be lawful and fair, but since that time constitutional interpretation has evolved through various court decisions.
Instructions to present-day boards have "changed substantially since that time, and current selection board processes are not affected by this issue," said Mary L. Walker, Air Force general counsel.
The service used the challenged language in all officer RIF, early retirement, promotion, regular Air Force, and selective continuation boards from July 1990 to May 1998.
When the lawsuits were initially brought before the US Court of Federal Claims, the court agreed with the Air Force. The service had argued that the instructions taken as a whole treated individuals neutrally.
The appeals court reversed that ruling in a 2-1 decision.
U-2s Get Upgrade
The Air Force's high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft are getting the latest technology, taking the aircraft from Block 0 to Block 10. The $1.4 billion project is to be completed within the next two years.
The upgrade involves airframe, sensor, and data link improvements.
U-2s in the Block 10 configuration will collect better imagery more quickly, according to Maj. Peter Lewis, chief of tactics for the 9th Operations Group at Beale AFB, Calif., home of the U-2 fleet.
The new systems are very complicated, said Lewis, so pilots and maintainers began acquainting themselves with the upgrades last year to ensure the U-2 team could sustain ongoing worldwide operations with the new system.
Aldridge Signs Crusader Termination Memo
On July 26, Pentagon acquisition chief Edward C. Aldridge signed a memorandum to the Army officially directing "an orderly termination of the Crusader program." The formal demise followed months of crusading by advocates, including several key lawmakers and the Army, to save the cannon.
The Army had only recently sent Congress a report that said canceling Crusader and shifting its money to other technologies would be more costly than simply continuing with it.
Aldridge told reporters Aug. 8 that he was skeptical of the analysis in the Army report. "I think the courses of action in that study were biased very heavily toward Crusader and not balanced and proper and consistent across all the options."
Specifically, he said, the report did not add the cost of pursuing Future Combat System capabilities as part of course of action No. 1, which was the Crusader option. Those costs should have been included across all four courses of action, he said.
If FCS costs had been added, "the cost of all the results turn in about the same," said Aldridge.
The Crusader funds--some $32 million--were shifted to FCS technologies under development by the same contractor that was working on the Crusader. Congress approved the reprogramming action.
B-1B Drawdown Moves Forward
The Air Force plan announced last year to reduce the number of B-1B bombers in active service by 30 and consolidate those that remain at two locations is running smoothly, according to an Aug. 12 announcement.
The three losing units at McConnell AFB, Kan., Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and Robins AFB, Ga., ceased B-1B operations earlier this summer. Their B-1Bs have gone to either Dyess AFB, Tex., or Ellsworth AFB, S.D.
Dyess also picked up Det. 1 of the USAF Weapons School and Det. 2 of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group, which were both stationed at Ellsworth. The Texas base will now be the center for all B-1B aircrew training.
The older bombers at Dyess will be sent either to storage or to be used for static displays. "All the '83 models are going, and that's true for most of the '84s," said Col. Mike Moeller, 7th Operations Group commander. Dyess will then have a standardized fleet, with the lowest flight hours on them, he added.
USAF expects to save nearly a billion dollars from the drawdown and consolidation. That money will go toward upgrades for the 60 B-1Bs remaining in active service.
The next major upgrade, dubbed Block E, will integrate the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser, the Joint Standoff Weapon, and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile with the B-1Bs. It will also provide new avionics computers.
USAF Changes Tarnak Farms Disciplinary Authority
Air Combat Command announced Aug. 16 that it was transferring disciplinary authority for the April 17 friendly fire incident at Tarnak Farms Range in Afghanistan that left four Canadian soldiers dead and eight others injured. The new authority is the commander of 8th Air Force, Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson.
Carlson is to consider the fate of two USAF F-16 pilots who were found to be at fault in the incident by a coalition investigation board and a separate Canadian board. The findings of both boards were released June 28, and their reports were turned over to the Air Force for further action. (See "Aerospace World: Pilots Blamed in Canadian Deaths," August, p. 16.)
Gen. Hal M. Hornburg, ACC commander, transferred authority over the incident from Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, according to an ACC release, namely to prevent the perception of a conflict of interest. Moseley, in his role as commander of coalition air forces in Afghanistan, exercised command over the F-16 pilots.
House Committee To Boost GI Bill
The House Veterans Affairs Committee wants to return the Montgomery GI Bill to its World War II-era status to improve its potential as a military recruiting tool. Darryl Kehrer, a committee staffer, said recent improvements to the bill are just not enough.
Kehrer, speaking at a DOD conference in New Orleans July 31, said Congress had increased benefits by 46 percent over the last two years. The monthly allowance will increase to $900 in October 2002 and to $985 the following year.
Yet, Kehrer said, the allowance would have to be $1,409 for an individual to attend a public, four-year institution as a commuter student.
He quoted Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), committee chairman, as saying, "If the original GI Bill is our most successful program ever, why should 'ever' not include the here and now?"
Kehrer said the committee is working to return to the old system, in which tuition and the cost of books were paid directly to colleges and the veteran received a monthly allowance to cover expenses.
"We talk about the all-volunteer force, but we all know what it is," he said. "It's an all-recruited force."
DOD Gives Up Bandwidth
The Department of Defense and other federal agencies transferred 45 MHz of radio bandwidth frequencies to the private sector July 23. It was a much anticipated move.
The Pentagon for several years has been fighting to retain sufficient bandwidth for its growing information technology needs. At the same time, the commercial telecommunications industry demand has skyrocketed. (See "The Battle for Bandwidth," October 1999, p. 54.)
In fact, according to the Commerce Department, US wireless use, measured in minutes, is increasing 75 percent each year. Consequently, Commerce Department officials said they developed a plan, called the 3rd Generation Viability Assessment, that reallocates bandwidth without jeopardizing DOD missions. DOD officials agreed with their assessment.
The transfer of these frequencies, all in the 1710-1755 MHz range, will not impair DOD missions, said Steven Price, deputy assistant secretary of defense for spectrum, space, sensors, and command, control, and communications policy. However, he said the move will require some changes to certain military systems.
Price also emphasized that, under the 3G plan, the Pentagon will have access to more bandwidth, if needed.
DOD has until December 2008 to relocate its affected systems to other bandwidths.
Say Good-bye to Mystery Meat
Combat rations have gone upscale, according to Gerry Darsch, the Pentagon's director of combat feeding.
Old standbys such as chicken à la king have been eliminated. New Meals Ready to Eat include Yankee pot roast with vegetables, Thai chicken, seafood jambalaya, and beef enchiladas.
Darsch said his program has a new philosophy: warrior selected; warrior tested; warrior approved. For example, he said that approach led to development of a pocket sandwich, which was on the warfighters' top 10 wish list for MREs.
Simple? Not really. The sandwich could not be frozen like most grocery store pocket sandwiches. Darsch got his best food specialists to develop a pocket sandwich that tastes like one that goes from freezer to microwave, but instead of being frozen, has a room-temperature shelf life of three years. The first three developed were pepperoni, Italian, and barbecued chicken. They are working on a barbecued beef pocket and a cheese and bacon breakfast croissant.
The pocket sandwich is the foundation for the new First Strike Ration, said Darsch. The FSR, designed for the first 96 hours of a conflict, weighs 53 percent less than three MREs, which weigh 4.5 pounds.
AFMC Extends YES
Air Force Materiel Command has extended its Year of the Engineer and Scientist initiative through 2003, command officials announced Aug. 2. They say it's too early to forecast results from the first year, but they want to ensure there is continued emphasis on the shortage of scientists and engineers in the Air Force.
The service has 13,300 military and civilian scientist and engineer authorizations. It is currently short of that number by some 2,700, or 20 percent. Within AFMC, which employs most of USAF's scientists and engineers, up to 70 percent of its entire civilian workforce will be retirement eligible within the next five to seven years.
The problem stems from the military drawdown and civilian hiring freezes of the 1990s. In the civilian workforce, that left a disproportionate age distribution.
To focus attention on the issue, AFMC started the YES initiative, which focuses on three areas: training and development, workforce size and mix, and motivation.
"We're currently working initiatives and legislation in all these areas," said James Papa, AFMC engineering and technical management director. Without a turnaround in the situation, though, Papa said the service is "going to be taking on more and more risk of our development programs failing without proper oversight from our own organic workforce."
White House Creates Global Image Office
President Bush plans to have a permanent Office of Global Communications set up by this fall. The office will coordinate and promote the Administration's foreign policy message and the US image abroad.
The office was initially established months ago as a temporary measure to rebut erroneous Taliban reports about the war in Afghanistan.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the new office will work "very closely" with the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy, but he emphasized it would not supplant State as the lead in public diplomacy around the world.
Depending on the issue, Fleischer said, the Global Communications Office will work with different agencies "to share the truth about America and American values with other nations in the world."
C-130s To Get LAIRCM System
On Aug. 9 Northrop Grumman announced it had received a contract to equip Air Mobility Command C-130s with the company's Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures System to protect the transports from heat-seeking missiles.
The two-year LAIRCM development contract includes production options for installation of the system on seven C-130s.
LAIRCM is a laser-based version of Northrop Grumman's lamp-based Directional Infrared Countermeasures System. The company has been installing DIRCM, called Nemesis, on 59 US Special Operations Command C-130s.
USAF Launches City-Base
The Air Force joined with the city of San Antonio July 22 to launch the Brooks City-Base, a new concept in reducing federal government infrastructure costs.
The venture, which USAF officials said is the first of its kind, makes Air Force units tenants on land the service used to own--Brooks AFB, Tex. The base and its facilities will now be maintained by San Antonio.
Gen. Lester L. Lyles, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, passed ceremonial keys to San Antonio Mayor Ed Garza and Brooks Development Authority Chairman Howard Peak to mark the transfer of property. The authority is now the new owner.
Brooks is expected to become a technology and business center that will attract major revenue-producing operations, such as a proposed federal vaccine facility.
AFMC's 311th Human Systems Wing, now the major tenant, conducts leading edge research to integrate the human element into warfighting systems.
Reserve Health Benefits Improve
The Air Force announced July 26 a change that improves transitional health care benefits for Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command personnel mobilized for the war on terror.
Personnel with more than six years total active federal service and who were mobilized for more than 30 days now are eligible for 120 days of health care following their mobilization. The change is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002.
Officials said eligibility is based on information contained in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Each reservist needs to ensure DEERS information is correct.
"That's paramount because all of your benefits are contingent on the information in DEERS," said Col. Kathleen Woody, DOD's director of reserve affairs medical readiness and programs.
The Defense Manpower Data Center is sending a letter to reservists who are eligible--that is, those whose DEERS data show they supported Operations Enduring Freedom or Noble Eagle.
Top Air Force leaders recently stated publicly that the answer to managing the service's increasingly high workload is not necessarily to add more troops. The real answer, they say, is to change how the service employs its personnel, both military and civilian.
Earlier this year each of the services had been calling for increases to their end strengths to handle the larger workloads brought on by the war on terror. However, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that first the services must consider whether current personnel could be better employed.
"This is a great debate," Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche said in late July. "It's our view that just adding people without changing how you do things consumes a lot of resources."
To help better understand its personnel requirements, the Air Force launched two reviews: the Core Competency Review and, more recently, the Personnel Tempo Survey.
The Air Force had already begun looking at its Aerospace Expeditionary Force deployments with the goal of spreading the requirements for deployments more evenly throughout the force. As part of that undertaking, the service identified its six most critically stressed career fields. (See "Aerospace World: Building Aerospace Expeditionary Forces for the Long Haul," August, p. 14.)
After zeroing in on the critically stressed fields, USAF conducted what it termed the Core Competency Review. The review identified tasks in non-stressed career fields that did not have to be performed by a blue-suiter. If a task could be done by either a federal civilian or a contractor, then the Air Force could shift the blue-suit authorization to one of its stressed career fields.
The CCR also examined what work could shift from federal employees to contractors. However, officials insist the review was not simply an outsourcing endeavor.
"This review is not an A-76 study," said Col. John Vrba, chief of Air Force competitive sourcing and privatization. "We aren't automatically going to convert military or federal employee positions to contract positions."
Vrba emphasized that there are no conversion quotas. "We simply are trying to take military or federal employees out of missions that they don't need to be doing and put those same people into jobs that do require military forces or federal employees."
The CCR has already identified some 2,500 active duty positions that could be converted from military to civilian. It also found 1,000 traditional reserve positions that could be converted to full-time reserve positions.
Meanwhile a companion study, the Personnel Tempo Survey, is shifting into high gear. It is designed to measure workloads in the majority of USAF career fields. The goal again is to be able to realign personnel authorizations between less-stressed and more-stressed career fields.
The Air Force Manpower and Innovation Agency tested the survey in June by looking at five career fields at Langley AFB, Va. The agency was to review another 20 fields at five installations before presenting preliminary findings to Air Force leadership this month.
The service plans to review all major career fields, working through wing manpower offices throughout the Air Force. "Every major command will be involved, with each wing responsible for 15 to 20 career fields to limit the data collection impact," said Col. William C. Bennett, USAF chief of requirements and utilization.
"Basically, we'll have work center supervisors track and report total work center man-hours worked each week," he said.
Bennett emphasized that perstempo increases are not limited to those personnel who are deployed. In many cases, he said, the people most severely affected are those left behind to accomplish the day-to-day mission with fewer people. "They're working longer hours to get the job done."
The perstempo survey will also be used to track where the break point is between man-hours worked and retention levels.
However, neither review is expected to provide immediate relief.
For instance, Vrba estimated that changes based on the CCR would not begin to be seen in the critically stressed career fields before Fiscal 2004.
The reason is the length of time needed to get new personnel trained. It takes nine months to one year to make significant changes to the training pipeline, said Vrba.
On July 23, the Air Force announced its selection of this year's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. The airmen, who will receive formal recognition at the Air Force Association National Convention in Washington, D.C., this month, are:
SMSgt. Edy D. Agee, 39th Supply Squadron, Incirlik AB, Turkey
MSgt. Bruce W. Dixon, 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.
MSgt. Timothy K. Garland, 752nd Computer Systems Squadron, Tinker AFB, Okla.
MSgt. Taru K. Taylor, Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah
TSgt. Caesar Kellum, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
TSgt. Rhonda K. Miller, 324th Intelligence Squadron, Hickam AFB, Hawaii
SSgt. Terrence F. Carraway, 315th Security Forces Squadron, Charleston AFB, S.C.
SSgt. Michael A. Holland, 12 SFS, Randolph AFB, Tex.
SSgt. Brian P. Sharman, 437th Civil Engineer Squadron, Charleston
SSgt. Alan T. Yoshida, 23rd STS, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
SrA. Brian M. Hamilton, 611th Air Control Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
SrA. Claudia V. Van Hassel, 460th Medical Squadron, Buckley AFB, Colo.
On Aug. 1, the Defense Department announced it was taking bids for a new multibillion dollar health care delivery package to serve its 8.7 million Tricare beneficiaries. DOD plans to reduce the current seven managed care support contracts to just three with the next generation of contracts.
The three new contracts will cover north, south, and western regions instead of the current 11 stateside regions. The basic benefit structure--Tricare Prime, Extra, Standard, and Plus--will remain the same, according to the Tricare Management Activity.
Consolidation of the contracts is intended to improve portability for beneficiaries and simplify the administration of Tricare. Having fewer contracts should also improve TMA's responsiveness, according to the agency.
The three regional contracts will each provide for integrated health care delivery and administrative services.
Additionally, under the next generation contract structure, TMA said it plans to separate certain elements to enable contractors to "focus on their core competencies." Those separate elements include:
TMA is also looking for a new Tricare Retiree Dental Program contract. The current contract, administered by Delta Dental Plan of California, ends Jan. 31, 2003.
Officials said once TMA awards each new contract, there will be a 10-month transition period before full implementation. They had no estimate on when TMA would announce the new contract awards.
Dueling continues on the issue of how to address the problem of USAF's aging aerial refueling aircraft. Key lawmakers are poles apart, as are Administration officials.
On Aug. 8, Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.) sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget head Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., taking exception to OMB's position against leasing Boeing 767 aircraft to be used as tankers. He said OMB had concerned itself more with accounting technicalities than the real issue.
"I believe that the fundamental issue is that the Administration's unrealistically low defense procurement budgets have precluded the services from addressing urgent requirements such as tanker replacements," wrote Dicks.
OMB, as well as the Congressional Budget Office, concluded that the cost of leasing 767s modified as tankers would be higher than buying new aircraft outright. The OMB even suggested that the Air Force should simply re-engine its older tankers. (See "Aerospace World: The Washington Tanker Wars," July, p. 15.)
Daniels at OMB also told Dicks that the Air Force has not formally identified new tankers as a priority.
To that, Dicks replied, "The budget topline for military procurement has been set so low that the actual picture of what the services require is seriously distorted."
For their part, Air Force leaders have repeatedly said since surfacing the lease proposal last fall that they would prefer to buy new tankers outright if the budget permitted that option.
Service leaders also said that they realized last year, shortly after Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle started, that the 43-year-old tankers would not last as long as they had expected. And re-engining the aircraft would do nothing to solve the airframe corrosion and fatigue-crack problems.
Air Force Secretary James G. Roche told Congress earlier this year that the KC-135s are costing the service more than it can afford to maintain. "Something is wrong if one-fifth of our 135 fleet has to be in major depot at any one time."
On the opposite side of the issue, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote on July 30 to both OMB's Daniels and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, "I am concerned that the impact of these provisions has not been adequately scrutinized and the full cost to taxpayers has not been sufficiently considered."
Roche has stated repeatedly that the Air Force would not undertake a lease arrangement for the 767s unless it made good business sense.
The Secretary's Plan A for tankers is to work a new-tanker purchase into the Fiscal 2004 budget. Plan B is to lease, but the Air Force is examining all options, including replacing some engines and contracting for commercial aerial refueling services.
The bottom line, say USAF officials, is that the service cannot wait until the budget for 2008, which was its pre-war on terror forecast date for buying new tankers, to find a solution for its aging tanker fleet problem.
Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff, released a new reading list for the force on July 22. The single list of recommended books is intended for all members, whether officer, enlisted, or civilian, unlike the rank-tiered list that had been in use since 1996.
His rationale for making it rank neutral: "It's useful for the generals to know what the young troops are reading and vice versa."
Jumper said he intends to make it "a dynamic list with additions and substitutions from time to time" so it will remain relevant in "our constantly changing times and challenges."
He also said the list was "a manageable size"--14 books--and encouraged members to read further on their own. The Jumper list of 14 books is broken into four categories:
Category I: History of the Air Force from its beginning through its major transformations as an institution
The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany by Stephen Ambrose
Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the United States Air Force, 1947-1997 by Walter J. Boyne
The Transformation of American Air Power by Benjamin S. Lambeth
Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in World War II by Geoffrey Perret
George C. Marshall: Organizer of Victory, 1943-1945 by Forrest C. Pogue
Category II: Insight into ongoing conflicts and the frictions that can produce conflicts in the future
Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America by Yossef Bodansky
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington
War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet by Eric S. Margolis
Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac
The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power by Daniel Yergin
Category III: Organization, leadership, and success stories holding lessons for the present and future
The Five Pillars of TQM (Guidelines for Organizational Greatness) by Bill Creech
American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command by Edgar F. Puryear
Category IV: Lessons emerging from recent conflicts--and the preparation for them
Every Man a Tiger by Tom Clancy with Chuck Horner
Prodigal Soldiers by James Kitfield
Last year, the Bush Administration moved the deadline for revitalizing DOD's substandard housing from 2010 to 2007. The Air Force has about 46,000 houses, or nearly half of its total of 103,000, that must be revitalized or rebuilt within that timeline.
Faced with such a massive housing upgrade, the Air Force turned to privatization to speed the process.
It basically came down to a money issue, said Binks Franklin, chief of Air Force housing program management. "We can't secure $100 million to $150 million to redo the housing at each base," he said.
Consequently, the Air Force decided to look to private developers. The service has awarded housing privatization contracts at four locations--Lackland and Dyess AFBs, Tex., Robins AFB, Ga., and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The contracts cover a total of 2,320 units.
The private developers agree to revitalize or rebuild the houses; in turn they get ownership for 50 years. The developers are paid monthly rent equivalent to each occupant's basic allowance for housing.
Air Force officials said privatization revitalizes housing more quickly and less expensively than the service could manage by traditional methods. "At Lackland, it would have taken $50 million," said Col. Jim Holland, chief of Air Force housing. "Using privatization, it cost us $6.8 million, so we wound up saving more than $43 million instantaneously."
The service is working on contracts for another 6,134 houses at Kirtland AFB, N.M., Little Rock AFB, Ark., Hickam AFB, Hawaii, Patrick AFB, Fla., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Concept development is under way for 6,049 units at Altus AFB, Okla., Dover AFB, Del., Hill AFB, Utah, Lackland AFB, Tex., and Offutt AFB, Neb. Another 13,827 houses at 15 bases will enter the process before Fiscal 2004.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
The next Daily Report will be Tuesday, Feb. 19, due to the Presidents Day holiday.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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