Panel Cites Academy Failures
A Congressionally chartered panel tasked with reviewing procedures at the US Air Force Academy following numerous allegations of sexual assault upon female cadets found several systemic problems with the way the academy is run and overseen, according to its report, released Sept. 22.
The independent panel led by former Rep. Tillie K. Fowler determined that many of the problems at the academy can be traced back to lack of sustained attention when evidence of problems emerged in the past.
“Regular turnover of Air Force and academy leadership, together with inconsistent command supervision and a lack of meaningful and effective external oversight, undermined efforts to alter the culture at the academy,” the panel’s final report determined.
Since 1993, the panel found, there have been 142 allegations of sexual assault at the academy. The sexual assaults and rapes are believed to be widely underreported.The report noted that many of the problems are being addressed through the Air Force’s “Agenda for Change,” implemented this spring, but the panel views it only “as the initial step in reversing years of institutional ineffectiveness.”
The panel said the agenda does not address the need for “permanent, consistent oversight” by Air Force headquarters, nor does it improve the external oversight by the academy’s Board of Visitors. The panel said that oversight has not been productive.
The agenda also eliminated the academy’s confidential reporting policy for sexual misconduct, which could have the unintended effect of further suppressing sexual assault reports, according to the panel.
Fake BRAC E-mail Debunked
After being alerted to a falsified e-mail that purported to list facilities facing closure or realignment in 2005, the Air Force quickly moved to dispel the hoax.
“The e-mail takes a legitimate Air Force Print News story titled ‘Air Force Releases 2004 Realignments’ ... and adds a fake list of Department of Defense installations” supposedly facing base realignment and closure actions, service officials said.
Air Force officials noted that the “ongoing BRAC process is nowhere near complete.”As part of the department’s 2005 budget justification, DOD will prepare a series of reports showing the need for a 2005 BRAC round, and these certifications will not be complete until around February 2004, an official said.
Isabel Forces Evacuations
Hurricane Isabel forced the evacuation of not only aircraft but also personnel from Langley AFB, Va., when the low-lying base fell in the storm’s path. Langley officials say 60 F-15 Eagles were evacuated to Grissom Joint Air Reserve Base in Indiana on Sept. 16. They returned to the Virginia base Sept. 21.
Aircraft evacuations from Langley are not unusual because of the base’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and runways that have an elevation of only 11 feet above sea level. More unusual was the personnel evacuation, which had not happened “in quite some time,” said a base spokeswoman.
Approximately 6,000 airmen and their families were evacuated from Langley on the 16th and were cleared to return Sept. 20.
Initial estimates are that the base may have suffered more than $200 million in damage from Isabel, primarily from flooding.
USAF Reviews Museum Policies
The Air Force on Aug. 28 announced that it has formed a group to review the operational procedures used by the US Air Force Museum at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The assessment group will include civilian experts in museum operations.
The announcement came after a series of articles in the Dayton Daily News reported on a March 21, 2002, audit of the museum that found about 1,000 artifacts were missing. The Air Force Audit Agency’s area audit office at Wright–Patterson, found that museum personnel “did not always effectively manage museum property.”
Scott A. Ferguson, the museum’s former chief of collections, is under indictment in US District Court in Dayton, for allegedly selling an armored car in 1999 that he knew had been stolen from the museum in 1996.
The 2002 audit is the second critical review of the museum. The Daily News reported that a June 1996 audit found that “museum personnel did not adequately manage the acquisition, registration, and documentation of weapons.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Charles D. Metcalf, the museum’s director, told the newspaper that the number of missing items had been reduced to 510. He said that is a “low error rate” for a museum that maintains more than 57,000 artifacts.
The USAF review group plans to examine whether the museum’s procedures “meet or exceed recognized professional standards of comparable museums,” an Aug. 29 Air Force release stated.
Recruiting Holding Up
Air Force recruiting levels are holding up so far. Each of the Defense Department’s four military services is on course to meet year-end recruiting goals.
Officials are reluctant to forecast what the long-term impact of continuing operations in Iraq will have on recruiting or retention, saying it’s too early to tell.
Officials credited the hard work of recruiters and the rise in patriotism coupled with a downturn in the economy for helping to keep the recruiting picture rosy.
The Air Force met its recruiting goal of 37,000 new airmen before the end of Fiscal 2003, the fourth consecutive year the service has met its target.
Israel Wary of Saudi F-15 Basing
Israel asked the United States to intervene to help ensure that Saudi Arabia moves F-15s recently deployed to the northwest corner of the Arab nation to a location farther from Israel.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel was concerned the F-15Ss based at Tabuk, about 100 miles from Israel, could be used for a quick-strike attack against the Jewish state. The Saudi Arabian fighters, purchased from the US in 1991, have traditionally been based much farther from Israel.
Israel has long been concerned about US military sales to potentially hostile neighbors with which the country has fought a series of wars. Although Israel is generally supplied with top-notch American equipment, the US has also supplied advanced F-16s to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft to Saudi Arabia, among other sales.
A 26-Nation Army
The European Union, this summer, deployed its own army for the first time, when it sent a 400-person contingent to Macedonia to participate in peacekeeping operations. This first-ever deployment for an EU force, known as EUFOR, contained troops from 26 nations—only half of them actually EU members. Six participating nations were non-EU NATO members, including Turkey.
Within the EU, however, the mission was seen as a precursor for more ambitious military operations. Asked in September whether this EU force competed with NATO and the new NATO Response Force, Gen. Charles F. Wald, deputy commander of US European Command, said probably not.
“The NATO Response Force will be, frankly, much more capable ... and probably more viable,” Wald told the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C.
“I think the NATO Response Force will be the force of choice,” he added, though, if NATO elects not to take on a particular mission, “then the EU [members] can do their job.”
Airman Arrested for Espionage
SrA. Ahmad I. Halabi, who had been working as a translator with Taliban and al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was arrested on charges he was spying for Syria. Halabi’s arrest was part of a spate of recent investigations of personnel at Guantanamo Bay.
Halabi, who is a native of Syria and moved to the US as a teenager, was apprehended July 23 and is being held in pretrial confinement at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. A Sept. 24 Air Force release stated an Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury process, was held Sept. 15-18.
Halabi is accused of attempting to deliver to Syria more than 180 notes from prisoners that “concerned intelligence gathering and planning for the United States’ war against terrorism,” among many other actions listed on a six-page charge sheet, stated the release.
Also recently arrested was Army Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain working with the detainees at the Naval facility. Yee was arrested Sept. 10 on suspicion of espionage. A third arrest involved former Army Pvt. Ahmed F. Mehalba, a civilian interpreter, also working at the Guantanamo facility. Mehalba was arrested Sept. 30 for making false statements to investigators when allegedly found with computer disks containing classified information about the terrorist holding area at Guantanamo.
Boeing Wins SDB Contract
Boeing beat out rival Lockheed Martin to develop and produce the Small Diameter Bomb, a next generation, Global Positioning System guided precision weapon.
The SDB is a 250-pound-class munition that will be fielded first on the F-15E Strike Eagle. The contract value is estimated to be $188 million, but the value could increase with additional future purchases.
The Small Diameter Bomb is one of the Air Force’s top weapons priorities because it will enable a single aircraft to hit larger numbers of individual targets on one sortie than is currently possible. It will also reduce the potential for collateral damage because of its smaller warhead size.
Russian Nuclear Sub Sinks
A decommissioned Russian nuclear submarine sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea Aug. 30, killing nine of the 10 sailors aboard. The sub was being towed to a scrap yard during a storm when it went under.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended the commander of Russia’s Northern Fleet after the incident. The Moscow Times reported that Russian Navy chief Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov said safety rules were disregarded when the sub was moved with the storm in the forecast.
Russian officials say there was no radiation leakage from the vessel, which had roughly 1,765 pounds of spent nuclear fuel in its two reactors. The sub came to rest 787 feet under water.
Aeromedical Evac in Bulgaria
Air Force officials set up an expeditionary aeromedical evacuation facility in Bulgaria in September, to train for contingencies with NATO partners.
The 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron out of Ramstein AB, Germany, established a medical facility to improve alliance interoperability as part of Exercise Cooperative Key 2003, USAF officials said.
The 86th AES is one of four squadrons in the Air Force able to set up such a facility, which would be used to quickly process and remove injured troops from a war zone.
Exercises such as Cooperative Key have paid off before, Air Force officials said. During Operation Enduring Freedom, a similar facility in Pakistan began processing patients within 30 minutes of the squadron hitting the ground, said SSgt. Marc Nelson, medical technician for the facility.
Hornburg Concerned by F/A-22 Funding Cuts
The possibility that Congress may further reduce the budget of the F/A-22 Raptor, moving the Air Force further from its goal of 381 aircraft, could have repercussions throughout the fighter force, noted the head of Air Combat Command, Gen. Hal M. Hornburg.
“If we never fight another war, [the cuts are] not a problem at all,” Hornburg said in an interview at the Air Force Association’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. “But my guess is, that’s not the world we’re going to live in.”
Hornburg said that the Air Force’s requirement remains 381 F/A-22s. “In fact, we need more than that,” he said.
The general noted that airpower represents the leading edge of most modern combat operations. “If it’s kinetic, it’s going to be fighters and bombers,” said Hornburg. “Unless our requirements greatly diminish, I would say that we need to look very, very closely before we start making willy-nilly cuts in the number of airplanes we acquire.”
In markups of the Fiscal 2004 defense spending request this summer, House and Senate lawmakers cut the F/A-22’s budget, likely reducing the number of Raptors the Air Force will be able to buy this year. (See “Aerospace World: Raptor Cuts Undermine ‘Buy to Budget’ Plan,” August, p. 11.) Lawmakers cited reduced program costs as justification. But the Air Force had hoped to reinvest savings in the program, to increase the number of Raptors the service could buy and eventually get to 381 aircraft.
In a separate interview, USAF acquisition chief Marvin R. Sambur said the full ramifications of the cuts are still to be seen, but members of Congress may be “signaling that they want definitive budgets” in advance—and not plans with fluctuating quantities.
While the Raptor represents a small buy compared to the Air Force’s plan for 1,763 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, reduced F/A-22 quantities will still have a ripple effect, Hornburg said.
The Air Force is facing a dip in fighter numbers later this decade, when large numbers of F-16s face retirement before F-35s are ready to replace them en masse. Absent a major F-16 life-extension program to cover a relatively short time gap, the Air Force’s fighter inventory will dip below requirements for several years.
“So if we don’t start getting these numbers of new airplanes—the F/A-22 and F-35—that we need in the numbers that are forecast, we’re going to have to look for alternatives,” Hornburg said.
USAF Recasts PEO Arrangement
The Air Force has reconfigured its program executive officer structure in an attempt to improve the oversight of the service’s acquisition programs. The changes, which took effect in October, give the commanders of the Air Force’s product centers dual responsibility as PEOs for most programs under their purview.
For example, the new PEO for aircraft, which will include all aircraft except the F/A-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is the commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright–Patterson AFB, Ohio. The center will also gain another general officer or senior executive service civilian—in addition to the one filling the ASC vice commander position—to serve as the ASC deputy for acquisition.
Air Force acquisition chief Marvin R. Sambur said the new arrangement will put the PEOs more closely in touch with the programs that they oversee.
The commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin AFB, Fla., is now the PEO for weapons, and the commander of Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the PEO for command and control.
The service will install a major general as the F/A-22 PEO, who will remain in Washington, D.C., a decision Sambur described as necessary, given the program’s high value and visibility. If the Air Force moved the F/A-22 PEO slot to Wright–Patterson, where the program office is located, it would “probably be a disservice” to the program, Sambur said. The Raptor “has issues” and is under intense scrutiny from Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he added.
There is no change for the PEO for services and the PEO for the Joint Strike Fighter.The F-35 fighter program alternates leadership between the Air Force and Navy.
Currently, JSF is headed up by Air Force Maj. Gen. John L. Hudson, who reports to the Navy acquisition executive. In spring 2004, JSF leadership will switch to Rear Adm. Steven L. Enewold, who will report to the Air Force acquisition executive.
The Air Force also decided to eliminate any acquisition role from the duties of its three air logistics center commanders. The ALC commanders will instead focus their energies strictly on the sustainment of USAF’s weapons systems. With the Air Force’s aircraft fleet becoming ever older, “sustainment is becoming increasingly important,” Sambur noted.
In the end, the goal of all the changes is simply to improve acquisition management. Sambur said the Air Force’s programs “have to start meeting budgets,” and fiscal performance will be a measure of whether the changes are a success.
Gen. Charles A. Gabriel, 1928-2003
Retired Gen. Charles A. Gabriel, who served as Air Force Chief of Staff under President Ronald Reagan, died Sept. 4 in Arlington, Va. He was 75 and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Gabriel was the first fighter pilot to serve in the Air Force’s top military position. His appointment as Chief of Staff was a significant departure from the previous Chiefs, largely drawn from the strategic arena, including numerous bomber pilots.
Gabriel was born in 1928 in Lincointon, N.C., and attended Catawba College in North Carolina for two years before entering the US Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. He graduated from West Point in 1950 with a commission in the Air Force.
He entered pilot training at Goodfellow AFB, Tex., and completed advanced training at Craig AFB, Ala., in December 1951. During the Korean War, he flew 100 combat missions in F-51s and F-86s and was credited with shooting down two MiG-15s.
Subsequent assignments took him to Landstuhl AB, Germany, the Air Force Academy, Moody AFB, Ga., the Pentagon, and back to Europe, where he served as a staff officer at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. In 1970, he became commander of the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Udorn RTAB, Thailand, and flew 152 combat missions in F-4s. After a second Pentagon tour, Gabriel served as deputy chief of staff for operations at Tactical Air Command, Langley AFB, Va., then, in 1977, became deputy commander in chief of US Forces Korea.
Gabriel returned to the Pentagon as deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and readiness, and then served as commander in chief of US Air Forces in Europe from August 1980 to June 1982. He became Air Force Chief of Staff in July 1982.
During his tenure, the Air Force and Army adopted what was known as the 31 Initiatives, which outlined how the two services would fight together. The initiatives covered major topics ranging from point air defense and combat search and rescue to joint target lists and the Joint STARS radar aircraft concept. Among the more detailed items was Initiative 25, which encapsulated the focus being placed on improving the Air Force’s provision of close air support to ground troops.
The initiatives were viewed as a major step in the dynamic process of building optimum air-land combat capability.
China Got Classified Info From EP-3
DOD has determined that the Chinese government probably obtained classified information from the Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft that made an emergency landing on a Chinese island in April 2001. The classified materials were compromised despite crew member efforts to destroy them before the aircraft fell into Chinese hands, a Navy investigation found.
Chinese acquisition of undestroyed classified material is “highly probable and cannot be ruled out,” stated the report, first obtained by Jane’s Defense Weekly.
This loss of sensitive information and equipment occurred despite crew actions that included jettisoning materials while still in flight, “smashing equipment with the onboard ax and other hard objects, and, upon landing, hand-shredding classified papers.”
The crew carried classified materials “as a matter of routine,” because they are necessary for the EP-3 to conduct its mission, the report stated.
The EP-3 collided with a Chinese F-8 over international waters, after the fighter repeatedly flew dangerously close to the Navy aircraft. This was the culmination of what the Pentagon described as a period of increasingly aggressive intercepts of US reconnaissance aircraft by Chinese airplanes. The Chinese pilot, Wang Wei, was killed by the collision or his ensuing crash into the Pacific Ocean.
After making an emergency landing on Hainan Island, the 24 EP-3 crew members were detained by China for 11 days. They were released April 12, 2001, after the US government issued a carefully worded apology that expressed regret for the incident but accepted no blame. The by-then-disassembled aircraft was not returned to US custody until July 3, 2001.
$7 Billion To Fix SBIRS-High, FIA
The Defense Department and Intelligence Community added $7 billion to the Space-Based Infrared System-High and Future Imagery Architecture programs to create management reserves for the troubled programs, senior officials announced in September.
“SBIRS-High and FIA were huge problems” and were case studies in the developmental difficulties that national security space systems often face, said Peter B. Teets. (See “Washington Watch,” p. 10.)
Teets, the Air Force undersecretary and National Reconnaissance Office director, said SBIRS-High and FIA required funding boosts of $3 billion and $4 billion, respectively, to create management reserve accounts. This money was added earlier this year with the intent of “allowing or empowering the program manager to manage,” Teets said Sept. 4. Reserve accounts are needed to keep from “breaking” a program when cost or schedule problems emerge.
“You have to have some flexibility to rapidly apply resources to solve problems,” Teets noted, adding that “the two biggest problems by far are [now] behind us.”
The SBIRS-High program is developing a next-generation, early warning missile launch detection system. FIA is a highly classified DOD/NRO/National Imagery and Mapping Agency reconnaissance system. Both programs have been plagued by cost growth and schedule slips, complicated by the lack of reserve funds to cover fluctuations.
The announcement was an unusual disclosure of information about FIA, nearly all aspects of which are classified, including total program cost and number of satellites. Teets declined to further elaborate on the adjustments to the FIA program, noting he was “walking a little farther than [he] wanted to.”
The Latest From Iraq
Gulf War II Deaths Surpass 1991 Total
US casualties in Iraq passed a grim milestone Sept. 13, when the number of troops killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom surpassed the number of deaths in the 1991 Gulf War. The death toll reached 294 in mid-September.
Since OIF began on March 20 (local time), 188 deaths have been in combat, while 106 stemmed from accidents and other noncombat incidents.
In Gulf War I, the 293 deaths were more evenly spread: 148 were combat related, and 145 were accidental.
President Bush declared major combat operations to be over May 1, but lower-intensity fighting has continued in Iraq since that time.
Missiles Fired at C-141 Departing Baghdad
Two man-portable shoulder-launched missiles were fired at an Air Force C-141 that was taking off from Baghdad Airport in early September. The missiles missed the transport because the C-141 was too high to be threatened, but a DOD spokesman said similar attacks have occurred “numerous times” in Iraq.
The attacks highlight both the continued instability in Iraq and the prevalence of Stinger-type missiles worldwide. The missiles, which home in on an aircraft’s heat signature, are most dangerous to slow-flying aircraft without defensive systems, arriving or departing from airports.
DOD Reports Progress in “Treasure Hunt”
Defense Department officials reported in mid-September that nearly 3,500 of the Iraqi artifacts stolen from a Baghdad museum in the first chaotic days after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell have been recovered.
Further, the extent of the looting is not as bad as thought. “It was widely reported that over 170,000 artifacts had been stolen or looted from the museum in Baghdad,” said Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos at a Pentagon briefing. He added that 170,000 is “wrong,” though an exact accounting is difficult to come by, because many items were never photographed or inventoried.
“Five months into the investigation, we still do not have a complete inventory of precisely what is missing,” said Bogdanos, who is leading DOD’s recovery effort.
Officials said amnesty and aggressive recovery programs have been highly successful. The amnesty program, which allows items to be returned “no questions asked,” has yielded more than 1,700 artifacts, Bogdanos said.
Worldwide raids and seizures have also been fruitful. “Raids on targeted locations in Iraq ... resulted in the recovery of over 900 separate artifacts,” Bogdanos noted. The remaining artifacts, nearly 800, were seized in raids outside Iraq.
Iraqis Express Optimism
The citizens of Baghdad overwhelmingly believe the US invasion and the removal of Saddam Hussein will be good for Iraq in the long run, according to a Gallup poll. A survey of more than 1,100 Baghdad residents in 122 locations found that two-thirds of Iraqis believe their nation will be better off five years from now than it was when Hussein was in power.
Gallup reports that 35 percent of the Baghdad residents expect Iraq to be “somewhat better,” while 32 percent expect their nation to be a “much better” place in five years. Only eight percent of the respondents expected the nation to be worse off than it was prior to the US-led war.
News NotesBy Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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