Roche Withdraws Name
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on March 10 announced that Air Force Secretary James G. Roche has requested that he no longer be considered for the position of Secretary of the Army. Roche will remain Air Force Secretary.
Roche’s nomination had been on hold since July 7 when President Bush formally nominated him to take over as the Army’s civilian leader. Roche was picked to replace Army Secretary Thomas E. White, who, on April 25, 2003, resigned following repeated disagreements with Rumsfeld’s office over the future direction of the Army.
Roche’s nomination languished in the Senate Armed Services Committee while lawmakers delved into a sexual assault scandal at the Air Force Academy and examined details of the service’s controversial deal to acquire new aerial refuelers from Boeing.
Many believed Roche’s nomination had simply become caught up in politics, however. The day after Roche withdrew his nomination for the Army post, a report by DefenseNews.com said that a four-month investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general found no wrongdoing by Roche or other USAF officials in negotiating the tanker deal.
B-52s Deploy to Guam
The Air Force in February deployed six B-52H heavy bombers to the Pacific island of Guam at the request of US Pacific Command. A PACOM news release said it had been rotating bombers into the region for more than a year.
PACOM said the deployment is routine and part of an adjustment of force structure to fill in combat capability for Pacific forces deployed for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
PACOM did not indicate how long the B-52s would remain on Guam, but, according to an Air Force spokesman, these rotations normally last about three months.
Gen. William J. Begert, Pacific Air Forces commander, recently emphasized the strategic importance of Guam, saying that he favors increasing the assets deployed to the US-owned territory. (See “Washington Watch: Boosting Pacific Force Structure,” March, p. 8.) Begert said that Guam’s Anderson Air Force Base has enormous unused capacity, a solid infrastructure, and a record of hosting hundreds of aircraft during the Vietnam War.
Guam is close enough to potential hot spots such as North Korea and the Taiwan Strait to serve as a valuable fighter and bomber staging location, but it is far enough away to be relatively invulnerable to enemy counterattack, a concern at the Air Force’s bases in Japan and South Korea.
PACAF officials said other bombers may deploy to Guam when the initial group of BUFFs completes its deployment.
Lord Seeks Space University
Gen. Lance W. Lord, commander of Air Force Space Command, wants to establish a university to support the needs of space professionals. He wants to place it in Colorado Springs, Colo., the home of AFSPC headquarters and several key space units.
“We need a national space university here ... to be the intellectual and operational center of gravity,” for space professionals, Lord said in an interview with Inside the Air Force earlier this year.
Military space operations are still relatively new, and the Defense Department does not have a large pool of trained space professionals upon which to draw, he said. He added that the university would help create the “space cadre” to maintain the United States’ strategic dominance of space.
Lord said the idea is, at this time, a preliminary proposal.
USAF To Issue PT Uniform
Air Force members will have a designated physical training uniform in the near future. Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff, publicly announced the new requirement in February at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.
Introduction of the new uniform follows Jumper’s January announcement of a new fitness standard, expected to be implemented Air Force-wide this summer.
The new program features exercise by units. “It’s going to put the social aspects of fitness back into our Air Force,” said Jumper.
The fitness uniform will have three elements: a running suit, T-shirt, and shorts. According to SMSgt. Jacqueline Dean, chief of the Air Force Uniform Board Office, the gear went through a fit test and wear test last month. They should be, she said in a news release, widely available by October.
Enlisted airmen will receive two sets of shirts and shorts and one running suit. Officers must buy their PT uniforms.
The running suit, which is the same as that worn by cadets at the Air Force Academy, is USAF blue with reflective white piping. The T-shirt and shorts are gray with some reflective elements. The shorts will have a pocket on the front, large enough for an ID card, and a key pocket in the waistband. Shoes remain the responsibility of each individual.
According to Dean, each of the other services has designated fitness uniforms.Jumper said, “We’re already seeing the fruits of our labor.” He noted that fitness center usage is up 35 percent and smoking is down. “We are on a path to make sure that this force is fit to fight,” he said.
F-117 Drops First JDAM
A test team at Edwards AFB, Calif., successfully released Joint Direct Attack Munitions from an F-117 fighter in January, the first time the stealth fighter has used the weapon.
Lt. Col. Jim Bierstine, commander of the 410th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards, said the Air Force is “upgrading the F-117 to carry JDAMs and other similar weapons,” as part of an effort to offer commanders greater warfighting flexibility.
The Nighthawks are also having their avionics upgraded to a Block 2 configuration. Officials will be testing the new software from May 2005 to August 2005.
While this was the F-117’s first use of the Global Positioning System-guided JDAM, it is not the first time Nighthawks have used GPS-guided weapons.
On March 20, 2003, the first night of Operation Iraqi Freedom, two F-117s launched the EGBU-27 munition to destroy a bunker where deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was believed to have been hiding. The EGBUs are 2,000-pound laser guided bombs that have been enhanced with GPS targeting capability.
Army Mulls USAF AEF Approach
The Army is studying whether it should adopt a rotational deployment structure akin to the air and space expeditionary force (AEF) construct launched by the Air Force several years ago.
Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, Army Reserve chief, told reporters in January that the Army may move to develop eight to 10 “expeditionary packages” for Army Reserve forces. He said a similar approach might be developed for the active duty Army.
Unlike USAF’s 15-month AEF rotation base, the Army Reserve packages would rotate deployments over a four-year cycle. Helmly said each package would be “on call”—first in line for major deployments—for a period of six to nine months.
During steady-state levels of operations, the Air Force’s 10 AEFs are considered on call for 90 days.
... Ditto, the Army National Guard
According to the head of the National Guard Bureau, the Army Guard is developing a deployment schedule similar to the one the Air National Guard follows under the Air Force’s AEF rotation schedule. The goal is to reduce Army Guard deployments to once every six years.
The key for the Army Guard, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum said, will be to create modular units that can fulfill both their state and federal missions.
Speaking to Washington reporters in February, Blum said the Army Guard is going to be on “pretty high stress” for about 18 months until it sorts out its new deployment plans.
Blum said some reports of unhappiness with operational tempo—which were obtained through voluntary surveys—need to be taken with a grain of salt. He acknowledged, though, that some specialties, such as military police and special forces, have been stressed because of the high demand for those skills.
Senior defense officials have said repeatedly in recent months that although they remain concerned about the morale of US troops, there have not yet been any signs the strains are going to lead to a mass exodus from the armed services.
Airmen To Help Relieve Army
Some 2,000 airmen headed for Iraq this spring will be replacing and augmenting Army forces as the Army completes a massive troop rotation. The Navy will supply about 3,000 personnel. All 5,000 will be engaged in “ground force functions,” according to Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff.
Schoomaker told lawmakers in late January that to implement the Iraq troop rotation plan, the Pentagon used “joint sourcing” to fill “shortfalls in the force.”
One primary goal of the joint sourcing approach, he said, was to ensure the Army could keep its commitment to soldiers that they spend no more than a year in Iraq.
The airmen were added to USAF’s Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) Silver—the second of two 120-day AEFs the Air Force has used to return to its normal 90-day AEF rotations following the demands of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (See “Aerospace World: Another 2,000 Airmen To Beef Up AEF Silver,” March, p. 14.) Among the 2,000 are personnel in civil engineering, security, and transportation functions.
However, Air Force officials said that some of these additional airmen may have to stay as long as 179 days.
USAF Replaces Soldiers
The Air Force said that the number of soldiers on loan from the Army to help protect domestic Air Force bases will drop from 8,000 to 6,500 this year. Replacing them will be a mix of airmen, civilians, contractors, and new technology.
Under an agreement struck in 2002, the Army was to provide about 8,000 soldiers for two years while the Air Force restructured to alleviate a manpower shortfall in security forces. However, continuing operations in Southwest Asia have put a greater strain on Army security elements than expected, forcing it to pull back some 1,500 soldiers.
Brig. Gen. James M. Shamess, Air Force director of security forces, said in a release that the Air Force will make up the difference in a variety of ways, utilizing new technology when possible.
“Instead of having a human assigned to a patrol, we’ll use systems where we can see areas farther out than a person can, run the information back to a central location, and respond as needed,” said Shamess. The service also plans to use automated identification checks and new explosive detection equipment.
To help fix the manpower problem over the long term, the Air Force began directing more new recruits into security forces and expects to retrain airmen from overage career fields.
DOD Authorizes Korean Medal
The Defense Department on Feb. 9 announced the creation of a medal for uniformed personnel who have served or are serving in support of the defense of South Korea. The new decoration is called the Korean Defense Service Medal.
Eligible are troops who served 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days—anytime between July 28, 1954, and a to-be-determined future date. According to the DOD announcement, that includes more than 40,000 US troops every year.
The medal is available to active duty and reserve personnel, veterans, and retirees. Only one medal, which is above the Armed Forces Service Medal in precedence, will be awarded per individual, regardless of number of tours in South Korea.
The Air Force will begin to issue the new medal to active duty and reserve personnel in the fall.
Veterans and retirees may claim entitlement by providing documentation to the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, Mo., 6312-5100, or may call 314-801-0800 for more information. Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve Command veterans and retirees younger than 60 should send documentation to Air Reserve Personnel Center, 6760 Irvington Pl. 4000, Denver, Colo., 80280-4000, or call 303-679-6134.
Bush Forms Bipartisan Panel
President Bush, on Feb. 6, established a bipartisan commission to study US intelligence operations, specifically intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. Chairing the panel will be former Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.) and retired federal judge Laurence Silberman.
The commission not only will review intelligence activities leading up to the war in Iraq but also American intelligence estimates of WMD programs in countries such as Iran and North Korea. It will have full access to the findings of the Iraq Survey Group and compare what the ISG “learns with the information we had prior to our Operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Bush.
The panel’s report is due by March 31, 2005. It will include “specific recommendations to ensure our capabilities are strong,” said the President.
Bush announced five other panel members: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.); Lloyd Cutler, former White House counsel to two Democratic Presidents; Rick Levin, Yale University president; Bill Studeman, former CIA deputy director; and Pat Wald, a former judge with the D.C. Court of Appeals. The President may appoint two more members.
DOD Kills Internet Voting Plan
Security concerns prompted the Defense Department to nix plans to offer online voting for the upcoming Presidential election. The Pentagon made the announcement Feb. 6.Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, on Jan. 31, signed a memo rejecting use of the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment because of “our inability to ensure the legitimacy of the votes,” a spokesperson said.
DOD had asked 10 computer security experts to evaluate the system. The experiment was canceled after four of the 10 reported that “there were a number of ways that computer hackers could crack into the system.”
Congress mandated the program in the 2002 defense authorization bill after a 2000 proof-of-concept demonstration the Pentagon ran for elections in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. A total of 84 voters participated in the test.
The Pentagon plans to continue research into Internet voting. However, Wolfowitz said researchers must prove integrity can be maintained.
DOD Announces Top Contractors
The Pentagon, in February, announced that it awarded $209 billion in contracts during Fiscal 2003—an increase of more than $28 billion compared to 2002.
Topping the list as prime contractors, in the same order as a year ago, were Lockheed Martin with $21.9 billion, Boeing with $17.3 billion, and Northrop Grumman with $11.1 billion in contracts.
That contracting “big three,” which accounted for nearly a quarter of all defense contracts, was followed by General Dynamics ($8.2 billion), Raytheon ($7.9 billion), and United Technologies ($4.5 billion), the parent company of airplane engine maker Pratt & Whitney.
The biggest gain on the list was posted by Halliburton, thanks to the company’s major role in stabilization efforts in Iraq. After being 37th on the list a year ago, Halliburton moved up to No. 7, with $3.9 billion in contracts.
Rounding out DOD’s top 10 were General Electric ($2.8 billion), SAIC ($2.6 billion), and Computer Sciences Corp. ($2.5 billion).
All told, the 10 largest contractors accounted for $82.7 billion in contracts. Each of the top 10 contractors had an increase in total contract value compared to the previous year.
Big Three Top USAF List, Too
Air Force contracts in Fiscal 2003 totaled more than $55 billion for the year. The top three contractors were the same as for DOD as a whole, with Lockheed Martin ($12.6 billion), Boeing ($9.1 billion), and Northrop Grumman ($4.9 billion) capturing 48 percent of USAF’s total for the year.
Those three companies were followed by United Technologies ($2.1 billion) and Raytheon ($1.6 billion).
Coming in sixth and seventh on the Air Force list were two companies not generally known as defense contractors: North American Airlines ($1.2 billion) and FedEx ($1.0 billion).
The Air Force’s top 10 list for 2003 concluded with General Dynamics ($0.95 billion), L-3 Communications ($0.92 billion), and Computer Sciences Corp. ($0.86 billion).
Retired Adm. Thomas M. Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from July 1970 to June 1974, died Feb. 5 at the age of 91.
Moorer also served three years as Chief of Naval Operations immediately prior to being named JCS Chairman.
He was a 1933 graduate of the US Naval Academy and was serving at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the US was attacked by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941. Two months later, he was awarded a Purple Heart after he was shot down while flying a combat mission off the coast of Australia. Later in World War II, Moorer was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying supplies into and wounded troops out of the island of Timor in the face of superior numbers of enemy aircraft.
USAF Seeks To Retire Some F-117s
The Air Force wants to retire a fifth of its F-117 stealth fighter fleet—a decision being made primarily to save money.
The Fiscal 2005 budget request discloses that USAF wants to deactivate 10 of the 52 Nighthawk fighters currently based at Holloman AFB, N.M.
Explaining the decision to reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Gen. Hal M. Hornburg said the F-117s, while valuable in every war in which they have participated, have always been used and deployed in small numbers. The head of Air Combat Command said he could understand why some people might be upset with the decision, but he added that it is a good time for a “capabilities tradeoff.”
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) was one who expressed some concern. He said, “I really want to see the justifications for the reduction in F-117 stealth fighters at Holloman.”The Air Force expects the move to save about $75 million over five years.
First used in 1989, the F-117 has repeatedly proved its value in major Air Force campaigns. The fighters were most recently used for Operation Iraqi Freedom; a pair of F-117s began the war with a predawn attack last March 20.
However, the aircraft’s capabilities will soon be replicated by the F/A-22 and F-35 fighters. The Air Force is in the early stages of an effort to create a “bridge” from its legacy platforms to its next generation systems.
The service hopes to use the operating savings to fund upgrades to F-117s that remain in service.
Air Force Study Finds Agent Orange Cancer Link
A new analysis of cancer incidence among Air Force veterans of the Vietnam War found increased rates of prostate cancer and melanoma for airmen who sprayed the defoliant Agent Orange and other herbicides. The Air Force, on Jan. 22, said that previous results of the service’s study on Operation Ranch Hand had not found such a link.
Since it first conducted health examinations in 1982, the Air Force has tried to determine whether long-term health effects exist in Ranch Hand fliers and ground crew, the news release stated.
The latest results, said USAF, include a “statistical adjustment for years served in Southeast Asia” that reveals “increased risks of prostate cancer, melanoma, and cancer at any anatomical site among those with the highest dioxin exposure.”
The study compared Ranch Hand veterans against airmen who served in SEA during the war but did not spray herbicides. According to the release, dioxin exposure was probably greater for Ranch Hand participants than for the average Vietnam veteran.
The new analysis, which was prompted by discussions with an advisory committee of nongovernmental scientists appointed by the FDA, also found a “significant decrease” in some cancers for both the Ranch Hand group and the comparison group. It found “no significant increase in the risk of death from cancer” for either group when compared to national rates.
The latest results from the Ranch Hand study were to be published in February in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
EELV Costs Up At Least 25 Percent
The Air Force announced in early February that unit costs for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program had increased by at least 25 percent.
Service officials blamed the cost growth, in large part, on the downturn in commercial space launches. The Air Force had counted on a robust commercial sector to help keep the EELV program efficient. Also contributing were competition violations by Boeing, which forced the Air Force to shift some already planned launches to competitor Lockheed Martin.
The cost increase means the program is in violation of the so-called Nunn–McCurdy rule, which means the Air Force must certify to Congress that the program has a cost control plan in place and that EELV is critical to national security.
The Administration requested $638 million in Fiscal 2005 for the EELV program—$611 million of which is for procurement.
USAF Targets Chief Master Sergeant Development
The Air Force is changing how it manages its complement of chief master sergeants to put the “right leadership in the right place at the right time,” said CMSAF Gerald R. Murray. The effort is part of the service-wide force development program.
Murray said in a Jan. 14 Air Force release that USAF has “more than 100 empty chief master sergeant positions.” He called the leadership void “unacceptable.”
The Air Force Senior Leadership Management Office recently took over development and assignments for the chiefs. Previously the service’s nearly 3,000 active duty chiefs had been managed by the Air Force Personnel Center. The move, said Murray, will provide the same focused development for chiefs as is given to senior officers and civilians.
Other USAF plans to enhance development of its senior-most enlisted personnel include establishing a new professional military education course, cross flowing chiefs from overage career fields to shortage fields, and establishing an assignments rotations policy for special duties and staff positions.
Brig. Gen. Richard S. Hassan, who heads the senior leadership office, said the Air Force has “denied” itself the full benefit of its chiefs by not “openly cross flowing” them to positions when and where they are needed.
“We view that as a denial to both the individual ... as well as to the units who do not have a chief master sergeant to lead them,” said Hassan. He added, “It is certainly a waste to have [E-9s] serving in E-8 and E-7 billets.
Murray said that, beginning in the 2004 promotion cycle, the Air Force plans “to establish a three-year service commitment to be promoted to chief.” That is the same policy that is in place for newly minted colonels.
The Iraq Story Continues
Expeditionary Wing Moves to BaladThe 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing recently relocated from Tallil Air Base in southeastern Iraq to Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad. The wing relocated Jan. 30 as part of a US Central Command Air Forces initiative to consolidate forces into one location, according to a Feb. 2 news release.
The 332nd had been operating out of Tallil for six months.
Officials noted that CENTAF has not completely vacated the base in southern Iraq—the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, commanded by Col. Kevin E. Williams, is remaining at Tallil.
Airman Dies in Vehicle AccidentAir Force MSgt. Jude C. Mariano, 39, of Vallejo, Calif., died Feb. 10 from injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident in Qatar on Feb. 5. Mariano was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom at the time of the accident.
A Feb. 12 USAF release said Mariano was serving as an air mobility division information manager in the combined air operations center in Qatar. He was deployed from the 615th Air Mobility Operations Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif.
CasualtiesBy Feb. 19, a total of 543 US troops had died since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom last March 20. Of these casualties, 376 were killed by hostile action, while 167 died in noncombat incidents.
Major combat operations were declared over on May 1, 2003. Since that time, 405 troops have died in Iraq: 261 in combat and 144 in nonhostile incidents.
USAF Can Cut Mishaps 50 Percent
The Air Force believes that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s goal of cutting aircraft mishaps by 50 percent in two years is achievable.
Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff, went one step further Feb. 18 when he codified a new Air Force safety goal of zero mishaps.
“Any goal other than zero implies that some mishaps are acceptable,” Jumper said in a statement.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hess, head of USAF safety, told a House committee in mid-February, “We can make significant improvements in safety,” and added that Rumsfeld’s goal “is achievable and will directly increase our operational readiness.” Hess noted in his testimony that this effort is challenging and will not be “business as usual” because it requires “real cultural change.”
Jumper said that over the past decade, “despite some excellent safety programs,” the Air Force had not made “much progress” and had, in fact, been “moving in the wrong direction.” He wrote, “Another program, procedure, or lecture won’t help. Each of us paying attention will.”
The overall lack of progress in improving aviation safety by all the services in recent years—and a spike in mishaps during Fiscal 2002—caught the attention of Rumsfeld and Jumper. Both have issued memos calling the recent trends unacceptable. (See: “A Plague of Accidents,” February, p. 58.)
The Air Force is working with the other services to find “areas that have the highest potential payoff in reducing fatalities, the number of destroyed aircraft, and, ultimately, reducing the mishap rate,” Hess told the House Armed Services Committee. One focus of the effort will be to look for trends in incidents attributed to human error, now a leading cause of mishaps.
News NotesBy Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
A Titan IV rocket, equipped with an Inertial Upper Stage, launched a Defense Support Program satellite into orbit Feb. 14 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch was the final mission for Boeing’s IUS booster.
The Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing, in February, received the first of 19 F-15A/Bs retrofitted with E-kit upgrades, providing additional thrust and enhanced combat capability at much less cost than a new engine. According to Pratt & Whitney, the Florida ANG will receive all 19 by 2006. USAF also plans to retrofit F-15s for ANG units in Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Oregon.
USAF enlisted personnel have three months, instead of 12 months, to decide whether to re-enlist, officials announced in February. The change marks a return to the policy prior to 2001 and will give USAF a better picture of its anticipated end strength.
The Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah, earlier this year completed modifications on the first F-16 fighter under a $1 billion program that will replace or repair structures that are known to lead to widespread fatigue damage. The first F-16 went to the Minnesota ANG’s 148th Fighter Wing. USAF plans to modify more than 1,200 F-16s to ensure the fighters remain viable beyond 2020.
USAF accident investigators said pilot error caused a Thunderbirds aircraft to crash during an air show Sept. 14 at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Their report said that the pilot misjudged the altitude required to complete a “Split S” maneuver. When he realized something was wrong, he maneuvered his F-16 to avoid the crowd and ejected with barely a second to spare before impact. He had minor injuries, but the aircraft was destroyed.
Beginning in fall 2007, Guard and Reserve C-130s will undergo avionics modernization, USAF announced. The avionics modernization program will upgrade 520 aircraft by 2016.
Northrop Grumman will team with Lockheed Martin in USAF’s Space Based Radar development competition, Lockheed officials said in January. SBR, with an initial launch scheduled for 2012, is being designed to provide worldwide, on-demand, persistent surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Precision Strike Association honored the Air Force Joint Direct Attack Munition Joint Program Office in January with the William J. Perry Strike Award for the JPO’s work on JDAM.
Lt. Col. Michael Fossum, Air Force Reserve individual mobilization augmentee, was named as a NASA astronaut to fly on the space shuttle in November for mission STS-121 to resupply the International Space Station. Fossum will serve as mission specialist.
Battling unusually severe winter storms, personnel from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, located, with the aid of forensic archeologists and ground-penetrating radar, unmarked graves of 15 Alaska natives on an old Air Force radar site near Port Heiden. In December and January, the team removed the remains, which were in danger of being washed out to sea, and turned them over to villagers for reburial.
After about a five-year hiatus, North Korea and the US will resume repatriating the remains of US service personnel found in North Korea during joint recovery operations. US teams will bring the remains across the demilitarized zone at Panmunjom. An Administration official praised the level of cooperation shown by the North Koreans during recent talks.
Civil Air Patrol’s inaugural Civic Leadership Academy, in late February, drew 32 cadet participants. The week-long program in Washington, D.C., featured visits to Congress, the Supreme Court, presentations from government representatives, and team projects.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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