Airpower Aids OEF Forces
USAF and coalition aircraft were called in several times in the past weeks to pound enemy forces in response to repeated attacks on coalition troops as they patrol areas in eastern and southern Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Coalition troops, including members of the new Afghan national army, were clearing more than a hundred caves in which some 80 troops loyal to al Qaeda, the Taliban, or Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar now aligned with them, had been hiding and stashing weapons.
On Feb. 12, a B-52 bomber dropped a Joint Direct Attack Munition and an AC-130 gunship fired 105 mm cannon rounds at caves in an area north of Bagram Air Base.
On Jan. 28, USAF B-1 bombers and AC-130s, Norwegian F-16s, and US Army Apache helicopters attacked enemy forces in caves near Spin Boldak in southern Afghanistan. They used 20 JDAMs and a variety of other munitions.
Action continued for several days in the Spin Boldak area. Defense officials described it as the largest engagement since last spring’s Operation Anaconda. However, they said, Anaconda saw the deployment of more than 3,000 coalition troops, while the recent action had only about 350.
DOD Activates CRAF Stage 1
The Pentagon on Feb. 8 announced that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had authorized activation of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet at Stage 1, the lowest of three levels.
At Stage 1, 22 airline companies are put on notice to make 47 passenger airliners and 31 cargo aircraft available to transport military passengers and equipment. The 47 passenger airliners were immediately pressed into service hauling troops to Southwest Asia. The cargo aircraft were to be ready if needed by US Transportation Command to augment USAF airlifters.
During Operation Desert Shield in 1990, DOD activated Stage 2. Stage 3, which has not been used, calls for the use of up to 400 civilian aircraft.
USAF Deploys F-117s
Air Force officials confirmed that they had deployed F-117 stealth fighters from Holloman AFB, N.M., to an overseas location on Feb. 3.
The fighters participated in Operation Allied Force in Serbia in 1999 and served as key strike platforms during the 1991 Gulf War. They used precision munitions to strike targets in downtown Baghdad.
Enemy Fire Strikes Bagram
Coalition forces at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan twice came under attack on Jan. 22, reported a Central Command spokesman at the base. In the first attack, a 107 mm rocket landed outside the base. It was followed shortly by small arms fire. There were no coalition injuries.
“We’re used to hearing a lot of gunfire at night, but, when that rocket went off, it was a shock,” said TSgt. Mike Wilhelm, a weapons loader for A-10s with the Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron. Wilhelm’s unit was on a 30-day tour in Afghanistan.
Bagram hosts about 450 USAF members and some 6,000 other troops—most of whom live in tents.
Officials say the enemy’s attacks are not accurate, yet each rocket has a 115-foot killing radius, so they take the threat seriously.
“It’s not a question of are we going to get hit, it’s a question of when,” said Brig. Gen. Greg Ihde, who has been directing air operations for Combined Joint Task Force-180 in Afghanistan.
Bush Releases FY04 DOD Budget
President Bush on Feb. 3 released the Fiscal 2004 Defense Department budget, requesting $379.9 billion—$15.3 billion more than the Fiscal 2003 appropriated budget. This marked a 2.6 percent increase, excluding inflation.
The Air Force portion is $113.7 billion, while the Army would receive $93.7 billion and the Navy and Marine Corps, $114.6 billion. The remainder goes to defense agencies and defense-wide operations.
The budget includes targeted military pay raises up to 6.25 percent and lowers out-of-pocket expenses for service members living off base from 7.5 percent to 3.5 percent.
Officials said the budget does not factor in costs of ongoing operations worldwide. In depth information on the new budget will appear in subsequent issues.
Iran Pursues Nuke Technology
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Feb. 9 said that his country had gained the knowledge to process uranium ore and would do so for use in civilian power plants. He also said Iraq had begun mining the ore near Yazd in central Iran.
Some news reports claimed that Khatami said Iran would also reprocess spent fuel.
Both revelations have heightened Administration concerns that Iran actually is pursuing the means to develop nuclear weapons.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, said that it is more “ambitious and costly” to develop a complete nuclear fuel cycle. Such a capability “only makes sense if it’s in support of a nuclear weapons program.”
Iran publicly acknowledged in 1995 that Russia was helping Iran build a nuclear power plant near Bushehr and had agreed to supply uranium fuel for the life of the plant. The agreement calls for Iran to ship the reactor’s spent fuel back to Russia.
Two other nuclear facilities under construction only came to light last summer. The facilities—at Natanz and Arak—were disclosed by an Iranian opposition group, and, according to the State Department, could “produce weapons-usable fissile material.”
G&R Home Role To Increase?
Paul McHale, confirmed Feb. 4 to fill the new position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense, told Congress that the National Guard would, in the coming months, become “even more deeply engaged in homeland defense.” He added that to a lesser extent the Reserve would see greater participation as well.
Speaking at his Jan. 30 confirmation hearing, McHale said, “If anything, the Guard will in some ways be coming back to its roots, to defend the nation domestically.”
He added, though, that both Guard and Reserve also must retain their overseas warfighting capability.
Lawmakers commented that the Guard and Reserve are almost fully committed. McHale said that the Pentagon is in the midst of a new review of the future roles and missions of the reserves.
VA Suspends “Better-Off” Vets
Department of Veterans Affairs in January announced that it would suspend additional enrollments of veterans in the lowest priority group—PG-8. The category includes veterans who do not receive compensation for a military-related disability and who have relatively high incomes.
According to the VA, growth in the number of veterans seeking VA health care—primarily those in PG-8—made it impossible for the VA to provide timely access to health care services. Since 1996, the VA rolls increased from 2.9 million to 6.8 million. More than half of all new enrollments came from Priority Group 8 veterans.
Even with the suspension of PG-8 veterans, officials said they expect another 380,000 veterans to enroll this fiscal year.
Announcement of the suspension accompanied release of the President’s Fiscal 2004 budget, which VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi, said provided a “record” spending increase. The budget proposes $63.7 billion for Veterans Affairs.
“With this record budget increase , I expect access to medical facilities for severely disabled veterans to improve, along with a reduction in waiting times for all veterans,” Principi said.
Reserve Affairs Post To Go?
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld may ask Congress to let him drop three senior civilian positions, including the assistant secretary for reserve affairs. The function would be folded into the office of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, according to the Washington Times.Reserve groups and many lawmakers oppose such a plan. Some even suggest the reserve affairs position should be elevated to undersecretary status.
The two other positions are the assistant secretary for special operations/low intensity conflict and assistant secretary for legislative affairs. Both also have strong support among lawmakers. Last year, Rumsfeld unsuccessfully tried to cut the SOLIC post and merge its functions into the new assistant secretary of homeland defense office.
Defense officials indicated the proposal is part of an overall plan to streamline the Pentagon bureaucracy. Other possible moves would merge offices within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Commando Solo Spreads Word
The Air National Guard’s EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft have begun broadcasting Pentagon press briefings into Iraq. The first to be transmitted was a Jan. 22 press briefing at the Foreign Press Center by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rumsfeld told reporters that the aircraft would broadcast via radio the weekly briefings “because the truth matters.”
Rumsfeld noted that every week he and Myers stand in front of independent journalists to try to answer their questions. “Some of the questions are tough, many are insightful, and all add to the information available to the American people and the people of the world,” he said. “The truth is important; it matters; it is the foundation of justice.”
Commando Solo crews from ANG’s 193rd Special Operations Wing in Pennsylvania have been broadcasting taped messages into Iraq for several months. They fly outside Iraqi airspace.
Reservist Gets Medal of Valor
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Jan. 17 presented Dan McNally, a USAF reservist, with the New York City Police Department’s Medal of Valor for his heroic actions on 9/11 at the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
He is a detective with NYPD’s bomb squad but has been on active duty with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations since January 2002.
On 9/11, McNally,at his home in Manhattan, heard the first airliner strike the World Trade Center. When he saw the second strike on TV, he immediately reported to work and met up with other bomb-squad members at the WTC just after the first tower collapsed. They were clearing debris and directing civilians away from the area as the north tower began shaking. McNally and seven others were told that the tower was going to come down, but they went into Building 6, adjacent to the tower, anyway to look for anyone who might need help. In minutes, the north tower collapsed directly onto Building 6.
McNally and four of his group were spared but were stumbling in total blackness until they came upon someone with a flashlight. McNally took the flashlight and turned back into the destruction to look for survivors. The damage was too extensive. He made his way out and kept directing fresh rescue teams to the last area he had seen his teammates.
“I was in the company of very good men that day,” McNally said upon receiving the medal. He could have returned to the NYPD in January but volunteered to stay on active duty.
USAF Aids Shuttle Search
Air Force officials said that active and reserve forces were pressed into action to aid search and recovery operations following the Feb. 1 loss of the space shuttle Columbia.
All seven astronauts were killed when the shuttle disintegrated over Texas en route to Florida. (See “Two Columbia Astronauts Were In Air Force,” p. 21.)
Officials estimate that debris fell across a 23,000–square mile area. Recovered wreckage is being sent to Barksdale AFB, La., for storage and review.
Participating USAF forces included an Air National Guard C-130 from Fort Worth, Tex.; ANG F-15 fighters from New Orleans; Air Force Reserve Command F-16 fighters from Fort Worth; AFRC KC-135 tankers from Tinker AFB, Okla.; and a C-141 airlifter from McGuire AFB, N.J. The Civil Air Patrol, USAF’s auxiliary, also provided aircraft and personnel to aid search efforts.
Coordinating military assistance were the DOD Manned Space Flight Support Office at Patrick AFB, Fla., and the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley AFB, Va.
In addition, AFRC mortuary specialists volunteered to help prepare the remains of the astronauts for burial. Eight of the reservists were from Dover AFB, Del.; three from McChord AFB, Wash.; and two from Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minn.
Bush Pushes “Best Worker” Pay
The Bush Administration’s budget proposes to limit the 2004 Civil Service pay raise to two percent. However, the budget includes a provision to establish a $500 million fund to boost the basic pay of the “best workers.”
Federal supervisors would be able to increase the percentage given to top performers or those who possess critical skills. This type of reward system “is preferable to the traditional practice of evenly spreading raises across the federal workforce regardless of performance or contribution,” states the budget proposal.
According to Administration officials, civilian pay raises in recent years have exceeded inflation rates. The two percent increase falls short of the 2.7 percent raise dictated by federal law to try to equalize Civil Service pay with pay in the private sector. However, the White House questions the methodology behind the law and maintains that an overhaul of the Civil Service pay system is overdue.
The performance-based fund would require Congress to change federal pay laws. Several lawmakers are already at odds with the Administration over the Fiscal 2003 Civil Service pay increase of 3.1 percent. They want to restore pay parity between Civil Service and military pay increases. (See “Aerospace World: Bill To Link Fed Civ/Military Pay,” February, p. 14.)
Pay-for-performance systems have been proposed in the past but were dropped out of concern that favoritism would rule.
Close Excess Weapons Plants?
The Defense Department plans to push defense contractors to close excess production facilities. As an incentive, DOD wants to allow the contractors to retain money saved by closing unneeded plants.
Michael Wynne, principle deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, said Feb. 4 that there is no need to keep unneeded facilities running in anticipation of possible future requirements.
“We can shut down facilities and bring them up quickly if we need,” said Wynne.
Speaking at a conference sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Wynne also said that the Pentagon wants large defense contractors to help expand the military industrial base by sharing research and development efforts with smaller companies. The Pentagon plans to rate its contractors on how well they share R&D funding and how well they develop competition among smaller firms.
At the same conference, Northrop Grumman head Kent Kresa said that smaller firms are reluctant to do business with the federal government because of current labyrinthine requirements.
“We in the defense industry have to become more proactive working with smaller and more nontraditional suppliers, domestic and foreign,” said Kresa. In doing so, he added, industry will broaden its technology pool and be better able to meet future defense needs concerning biological, chemical, and cyberwar threats.
New B-52 Avionics Begin Tests
The B-52 bomber’s upgraded offensive avionics system began undergoing tests late last year at Edwards AFB, Calif. The upgrade calls for replacing processors equivalent to old Commodore 64 computers with ones at a Pentium II level.
“It is the biggest improvement to the B-52 in 12 [to] 15 years,” said Maj. Ed Bellem, B-52 flight commander and project pilot at Edwards.
The test period encompasses 80 sorties averaging eight hours each, plus several global missions that will last more than 24 hours. The extensive test program is a result of the 30 different weapons employed on the B-52.
The upgrade includes a new inertial navigation system, avionics control unit, data transfer system, and all associated hardware and software. The Air Force increasingly has had problems finding parts to repair and replace the B-52’s existing avionics systems since original vendors either went out of business or switched to producing newer equipment.
Bonuses Go To Five Officer Fields
The Air Force on Jan. 31 announced that more than 6,000 officers in five critical-skill career fields can receive a retention bonus of up to $40,000. The payments would be made in four annual installments of $10,000.
The eligible categories are scientists, developmental engineers, acquisition program managers, civil engineers, and communications and information officers. To be eligible, an officer must have four to 13 years of commissioned service. Those who accept the bonus must commit to serve up to four more years.
USAF officials said the impetus for the bonus program stemmed from the Science and Engineering Summit held in December 2001. Over the past few years, these five career fields have had the lowest retention rate in the service, said Lt. Col. Dean Vande Hey with the Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph AFB, Tex.
Those officers who become eligible for the bonus before Sept. 30 must enter into an agreement with the Air Force by Aug. 31. For more information, call toll free at 866-229-7074.
DOD Changes Health Tracking
The Pentagon has developed a new method to track and assess the health of deployed troops. The object is to avoid a repeat of problems experienced after the 1991 Gulf War, according to Michael Kilpatrick, DOD’s deputy director of deployment health support.
The new strategy, he said, will track an individual’s health care before, during, and after a deployment.
DOD will issue medical questionnaires that help assess an individual’s physical and mental health immediately before and after deployment. Physicians will check the questionnaires to see if there are any changes in an individual’s health that may require medical attention. After that, the forms are to be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where they will be retained for analysis.
DOD has also created three deployment health centers. Two of them covering health surveillance and health care are located at Walter Reed. The third, for health research, is located at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego.Kilpatrick said DOD is working on other efforts to enhance health protection for deployed forces. One would send preventive medicine and environmental surveillance teams to deployment areas to evaluate health threats on the battlefield.
US May Cut Troops in Europe, South Korea
The Administration is considering a dramatic change in US military presence in Europe and South Korea. The goal would be to reduce or eliminate the current system of huge Cold War–era bases and move to a system in which materiel and equipment would be stockpiled at small facilities with only skeleton forces to maintain them.
Marine Gen. James Jones, just one month into his new job as supreme allied commander, Europe, briefed several members of Congress on what they termed his “preliminary thinking” to reduce and shift US forces in Europe. Jones’s plan would close large bases and pare down what’s left, eliminating huge garrison forces, instead the Pentagon would rely on lighter units that can quickly jump from hot spot to hot spot. The US would use the downsized facilities that remained for rotational training. Jones also suggested the possibility of establishing such a training facility in Eastern Europe.
The US has roughly 100,000 troops in Europe, the bulk of them in Germany. Most of them are Army. Jones’s proposal would require a major shift in Army thinking and likely bring much resentment.
Although Jones emphasized to lawmakers that his idea has not been formally briefed at the Pentagon, it falls in line with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s thinking on a lighter, more flexible military force. Rumsfeld selected Jones for his present assignment, knowing that, as Marine Commandant, Jones had advocated bare-bones bases scattered around the world—known as the “lily pad” approach.
The Administration is also moving toward reduction of the US presence in South Korea. Negotiations are already ongoing to determine how the US might cut the number of facilities by almost half over the next 10 years. The US has approximately 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea.
Administration officials say the decision to eliminate bases and potential plans to reduce the number of troops has nothing to do with what appears to be a rising anti–American sentiment in South Korea.
“We are seeking a posture that is US presence suitable to each region, coupled with the ability to take effective military action promptly,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on Feb. 11. “Eleven years after the end of the Cold War, there is a school of thought to rethink the numbers and types of forces we have in different locations.”
Hester Expects To Field the CV-22
Special operators remain optimistic the CV-22 Osprey will pass its new test regime so that regular production of the tiltrotor aircraft can resume, but the program cannot be immediately accelerated, according to Lt. Gen. Paul V. Hester, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.
After two fatal crashes in 2000, the V-22 was grounded, redesigned, and confronted with a rigorous new test program. At the same time, production was cut back to a minimum sustaining rate so that large numbers of tiltrotors were not being built to the old and faulty specifications.
In a meeting with defense reporters Jan. 31, Hester said the demand for the CV-22 remains high. However, the Defense Department has not yet been able to prove “conclusively” that the airplane will do “what it has been touted to do,” the AFSOC chief said. He added that tests results have been good so far, and CV-22 capabilities are “very exciting to us,” if the aircraft lives up to its billing.
Pentagon acquisition chief Edward C. Aldridge has been one of the V-22’s most prominent skeptics. He is expected this spring to make a decision on whether to move forward with the program.
The current test regime and crimped production limit AFSOC’s short-term flexibility with the CV-22, Hester said. Decisions to accelerate the buy of special operations versions of the tiltrotor or to move ahead with alternate plans have to wait until the fate of the program is determined.
Once the V-22 finishes its current test profile, “then and only then” will AFSOC make the decision on whether to boost the planned per-year production number higher to field the full complement faster than planned, Hester said.
Senior defense officials in January said the department is looking at options for accelerating the CV-22 program because of the aircraft’s transformational capabilities. The CV-22 builds on the Marine Corps MV-22, adding features such as terrain-following radar needed to help commandos infiltrate and leave from combat zones.
The general said he is looking forward to fielding the CV-22, which is able to hover and land like a helicopter but can tilt its engine nacelles forward in flight to cruise with the range and speed of a prop airplane. “I’ll be out of the helicopter business ... by the end of the decade,” Hester predicted.
“When we bring in the CV-22 and put it on the ramp, I will retire those 1966 vintage [MH-53] Pave Low helicopters that I’ve got sitting on the ramp that do magnificent work,” he said. “It is time for them to be retired.”
In early February, Aldridge told reporters that DOD’s Fiscal 2004 budget request increases V-22 funding in the out years on the assumption that the tiltrotor will be approved for a return to regular production after 2004.
Nonetheless, Hester said AFSOC is also beginning to look at contingency plans in the event the much-delayed V-22 fails its test program.
USAF has already extended by about five years the service lives of AFSOC’s MH-53s, Hester said. “If in fact the CV-22 does not pass its tests, I would expect that our immediate solution ... is to go in and do an evaluation of an extended [Service Life Extension Program] on the helicopters.”
Such a move would be expensive, the general said, adding, “it would buy us time to turn to industry and ask them to give us options.”
—Adam J. Hebert
Wolfowitz on Prevention of New Catastrophes
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, in Jan. 23 remarks about Iraq, emphasized the difference between real and fraudulent disarmament.
Wolfowitz told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City that the threat posed by the connection between terrorist networks and states that possess weapons of mass destruction “presents us with the danger of a catastrophe that could be orders of magnitude worse than Sept. 11th.” He reminded the audience that Iraq has had 12 years to disarm, as it agreed to do at the conclusion of the Gulf War. “So far, it has treated disarmament like a game of hide and seek.”
Wolfowitz argued that weapons inspectors cannot disarm Iraq. “They cannot be charged with a ‘search and destroy’ mission to uncover so-called smoking guns,” he said, adding that the inspectors cannot verify weapons destruction if there are no credible records of their disposition. “It is quite unreasonable to expect a few hundred inspectors to search every potential hiding place in a country the size of France, even if nothing were being moved,” maintained Wolfowitz.
He noted that at least one UN chief inspector has said that confirming a country’s voluntary disarmament is a job that should not take months or years. Real indicators of disarmament are readily apparent.
On concealment and deception. “In the past, Iraq made determined efforts to hide its prohibited weapons and to move them if inspectors were about to find them,” said Wolfowitz. In 1991, inspectors found some prohibited equipment, but only because the Iraqis were moving huge devices used to enrich uranium out the back of a military base. He said that, over the years, Iraq’s ability to move and hide its weapons has become more sophisticated.
On intimidation and coercion. Wolfowitz said that multiple sources revealed to the US that Saddam ordered the death of Iraqi scientists and their families if the scientists cooperated with UN inspectors. Saddam also tries to pressure inspectors by using crude blackmail and labeling them spies.
On obstruction. Former inspectors found that Iraq officials would not hesitate simply to change numbers on documents right in front of the inspectors. Wolfowitz noted that an Iraqi official confronted with a known lie, responded that “it is not a lie when you are ordered to lie.”
North Korea Is a Threat, but “Iraq Is Unique”
Why has the US taken different approaches to Iraq and North Korea? Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said, “It is a fair question, and the answer is that the two cases are in fact quite different. Iraq and North Korea both pose serious threats, but Iraq is unique.”
He explained, “Saddam Hussein possesses chemical and biological weapons, he has used chemical weapons against foreign forces and his own people, in one case killing some 5,000 innocent civilians in a single day. ... No living dictator has shown the deadly combination of capability and intent. ... In both word and deed, Iraq has demonstrated that it is seeking the means to strike the US, our friends, and allies with weapons of mass destruction for a reason: so that it can acquire the territory of its neighbors.
“North Korea by contrast, is a country teetering on the verge of collapse. Its history has been one of using its weapons to blackmail the West into helping stave off economic disaster. North Korea is a threat, to be sure, but it is a different kind of threat.”
USAF Develops Playbook
Air Force officials said the service is working up a “playbook” to help combatant commanders better manage air assets. In particular, it will help them set up forward operating locations—bare bases—for air assets.
The key will be to assemble “force modules” of the appropriate people and equipment to be used in a logical sequence, according to Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Peppe, special assistant for air and space expeditionary forces (AEF).
USAF’s plan calls for five modules:
Each module will contain the minimum number of troops needed to handle the required tasks, said Peppe. “If you bring in 800 people instead of 700, then you have to bring more people to cook meals, more tents, more power generators, or whatever,” he said.
Peppe noted that the concept is not really new and was first suggested in 1989. In fact, the first module capability has been in use far longer.
“Air Mobility Command has been opening air bases with their tanker airlift control elements for over 30 years,” said Peppe. Contingency response units in both US Air Forces in Europe and Pacific Air Forces have the capability to open and secure bases in their theaters, and Air Combat Command has developed the capability to secure forward locations with its 820th Security Forces Group out of Moody AFB, Ga.
Peppe said AMC will take the lead in testing the entire concept. USAF leaders expect to have all force module plans finalized by Nov. 1 and start establishing the necessary new unit type codes (the mix of personnel and equipment) for AEF 5 on Sept. 1, 2004.
Doolittle Raider McCool
Retired Lt. Col. Harry C. McCool, a crew member of aircraft #4 in the World War II Doolittle Raiders, died Feb. 1 in San Antonio. He was 84.
McCool, who was born in La Junta, Colo., in 1918, joined the Army Air Corps in March 1940. He attended navigator school and, after receiving his commission, served with the 17th Bomb Group.
He went to South Carolina to train as a member of then Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s all-volunteer team. The Raiders were the first group to bomb Japan during World War II. Following that historic April 1942 action, McCool remained in the China–Burma–India Theater and flew 13 more combat missions. After participating in bond drives in the US, he served in Ninth Air Force in England, planning and flying combat missions over France and Germany.
McCool retired from the Air Force in 1968, then worked in Civil Service until 1988.
Russell Rourke, 15th Air Force Secretary
Russell A. Rourke, Secretary of the Air Force from December 1985 to April 1986, died of cancer Jan. 19. He was 71.
Rourke only served five months as the Air Force’s top civilian, retiring early for personal reasons. He had served in several administrative and liaison positions in Congress and the White House before being named Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs in 1981 during the Reagan Administration.
He was born in New York City in 1931 and graduated with honors from the University of Maryland. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 1959.
Rourke joined the Marine Corps in 1953, serving in Korea as a first lieutenant. Following his active duty tour, Rourke joined the Marine Corps Reserve, from which he retired in July 1985 as a colonel.
After resigning as Air Force Secretary, Rourke became president of Orion Group, an Arlington, Va.–based aerospace consulting business. He retired in the early 1990s.
Two Columbia Astronauts Were in Air Force
Two of the seven astronauts killed in the Feb. 1 Columbia space shuttle disaster were serving US Air Force officers.
Security Forces Squadron at Camp Speicher, Iraq.
Newsnotesby Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
Daily Report: The day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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