Airman Killed in Iraq
A1C Carl L. Anderson Jr., of Georgetown, S.C., was killed Aug. 29 while on duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Anderson, who joined the Air Force in December 2001, died when his supply convoy was struck by the explosion of a roadside bomb near Mosul in northern Iraq.
He was deployed with the 732nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group from the 3rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
Airman Dies at Osan
SrA. Jeffrey T. Alfieri, 22, of Coral Springs, Fla., died Aug. 5 from an injury sustained while he was working on an electrical transformer at Osan AB, South Korea, according to Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Alfieri, who was assigned to the 51st Engineer Squadron at Osan, was attempting to restore power to a section of the base when the accident occurred.
Air Force officials are investigating his death.
1,000 Days of Enduring Freedom
July 3 marked the 1,000th day of Operation Enduring Freedom, the first overseas action by America in the Global War on Terror. In the 1,000 days since OEF began on Oct. 7, 2001, US Central Command Air Forces and its coalition partners have flown roughly 140,000 sorties into, out of, and over Afghanistan.
Of those sorties, more than 94,000 have been strike missions, according to Air Combat Command.
OEF coalition air forces continue to play an important role in the battle with al Qaeda and the Taliban, protecting Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy as it heads toward elections this fall. The operation will continue as long as required, said Lt. Gen. Walter E.L. Buchanan III, CENTAF commander.
Airpower will help prevent “remnants of the Taliban regime and other terrorist elements” from interfering with elections and democracy in that country, Buchanan said. “A historic array of airpower options ... are available now and for however long they’re needed.”
For more on OEF’s first 1,000 days, see, “Airpower’s Contribution to OEF,” p. 19.
Many in USAF Must Change Jobs
In its latest attempt to rebalance the force, USAF is offering 1,098 senior noncommissioned officers in overstaffed career fields the opportunity to retrain for new specialties in 2005. The voluntary phase began Aug. 3.
The Air Force said it will resort to involuntary selection if the service does not receive enough volunteers. It has already identified those NCOs susceptible to involuntary retraining.
Unlike last year’s program in which NCOs were selected based on seniority, the 2005 effort selected NCOs across all eligible year groups.
USAF has limited retraining primarily to staff sergeants and technical sergeants with 16 or fewer years of service and master sergeants with 18 or fewer years of service. Some second-term senior airmen may volunteer for staff sergeant quotas. There are “limited” opportunities for senior master sergeants.
When it released the retraining-susceptible list, the service also began a drive to recruit airmen into nine enlisted aircrew specialties. It has 360 voluntary training slots for senior airmen through master sergeants.
Positions include in-flight refueling specialists, flight engineers, loadmasters, airborne communications and electronics specialists, airborne battle management systems specialists, airborne mission systems specialists, flight attendants, aerial gunners, and airborne cryptologic linguists. These positions offer monthly incentive pay based on the number of years of aviation service.
McSally Heads Combat Unit
Lt. Col. Martha McSally this summer became the first woman to command an Air Force combat squadron. McSally, an A-10 pilot, took command of the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., on July 19.
This is not McSally’s first “first.” In 1995, she became the first woman Air Force pilot to take a fighter into enemy territory, when she flew a no-fly-zone patrol over Iraq. (See “The Quiet Pioneers,” December 2002, p. 34.)
In 2001, McSally was instrumental in overturning a Defense Department policy that required servicewomen serving in Saudi Arabia to wear a head-to-toe abaya while in public areas, among other restrictions.
McSally, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and Harvard University, said she looks forward to a day when gender and serving are not issues and “we are just fighting side by side, and it’s not a precedent.”
Thule To Get Upgrades
The US on Aug. 6 signed new agreements with Denmark and Greenland that “pave the way for an upgrade of radar facilities” at Thule AB, Greenland, according to a State Department statement. The upgraded radar will support the US missile defense program.
One of the new documents amends the 1951 Agreement on the Defense of Greenland. The other two provide for economic, technical, and environmental cooperation.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who was in Greenland for the signing ceremony, noted that the US, Denmark, and Greenland had fought together against fascism and communism. Now, he said, “we will also meet the security challenges of the 21st century, from missile defense to international terrorism.”
Greenland has had a home-rule government since 1979, but Denmark continues to oversee foreign and defense issues. At the ceremony, Denmark’s foreign minister, Per Stig Moeller, said that his country did not believe the proposed missile defense system would serve as a defense against “all sorts of terrorism, but that doesn’t mean you should not defend yourself against some sort of terrorism.”
Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Thule hosts a ballistic missile early warning site that can detect and track missiles launched at North America.
The United States plans to modernize facilities at Thule, beginning with $21 million in upgrades in Fiscal 2005.
Seven ROTC Units To Close
The Air Force will close seven low-enrollment Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) detachments beginning next year. Although these particular programs have produced few officers over the last 10 years, officials noted that ROTC enrollment nationwide has actually increased by 30 percent since 2001.
In 2005, USAF will close ROTC units at the University of Akron, Ohio, and Grambling State University, La. In 2007, USAF will close units at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; University of Memphis; University of Cincinnati; University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.
Air Force ROTC enrollment overall has risen from 13,000 in 2001 to 18,500 today. More than half the growth, however, has come at only 17 percent of the existing detachments.
The service has created “cross-town” agreements for the units closing next summer to ensure affected students can remain in AFROTC en route to earning their commissions. The University of Akron has an agreement with Kent State University; Grambling will work with Louisiana Tech University.
JEFX Weighs 15 Initiatives
The Air Force-led Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2004 this summer evaluated 15 technologies as candidates for possible accelerated fielding. Officials said the “focus areas” at JEFX ’04 were improving network-centric infrastructures, predictive battlespace awareness, and effects-based operations.
Specific initiatives being evaluated included proposals such as network-centric collaborative targeting and machine-to-machine weather data transfer.
The $53 million exercise included live sorties at Nellis AFB, Nev., featuring every type of Air Force command and control aircraft. Gen. (sel.) Bruce A. Carlson, who is 8th Air Force commander and was leader of the exercise, said prospective technologies will be evaluated and the most promising ones will be picked for accelerated fielding.
Carlson told reporters at the Pentagon that recommendations will be briefed to the Chief of Staff this fall and that findings will be finalized and published in November.
This is the fifth JEFX. In the past, USAF has selected about 40 percent of the initiatives for acceleration. The relatively low acceptance rate for JEFX experiments doesn’t bother USAF officials, however, because they also learn from failures.
Twenty-seven of the 70 initiatives evaluated in earlier JEFXs were later pushed to the warfighter, according to Lt. Gen. William T. Hobbins, who led the 2002 experiment.
Seven of the 2002 JEFX initiatives subsequently were fielded for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hobbins added.
Ogden Sets Record Repair Rate
The Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, set a record by repairing 97 percent of all aircraft on or ahead of schedule this year, the center announced in August.
“These extraordinary turnaround rates have never before been seen in Air Force depot-level repair,” said Col. Paul Davidson, chief of Ogden’s aircraft division.
The goal for on-time deliveries at Air Force Materiel Command’s three depots is 90 percent. Ogden beat that target in each of its aircraft repair branches. The A-10 and C-130 shops achieved 100 percent on-time repair records.
Over the past few years, Ogden has instituted “lean” repair procedures to make the depot’s work more efficient. Perhaps the greatest improvement was in getting needed parts in advance instead of after a months-long delay that had been the norm. Another change reorganized the work area to put tools and supplies closer at hand.
Pilot Error Caused Fatal Crash
Air Force investigators concluded that pilot error was responsible for the crash of a T-6A Texan II April 3 at Savannah-Hilton Head Arpt., Ga. The crash killed the two pilots, Capts. Judson Brinson and Thomas Moore.
The board could not determine which pilot was flying at the time of the accident. Both were assigned to the 39th Fighter Training Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga.
The investigation report, released in late July, found that the aircraft stalled and rolled because the pilot flew beyond the maximum bank angle of 90 degrees and let the airspeed fall below the minimum of 161 mph. The pilot made no attempt to apply proper stall recovery actions, according to the report’s findings.
The pilots were returning from a training mission and had just taken off from Savannah to return to Moody when the crash occurred.
Yeager Cleared for Promotion
A little-noticed provision in the House version of the Fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill would permit the President to promote Chuck Yeager, 20 years after his retirement. Yeager retired as a brigadier general in 1975.
House legislators stipulated in Section 563 that the President could appoint retired Brig. Gen. Charles E. Yeager to the rank of major general on the Air Force retired list.
Yeager is a World War II ace with 13 confirmed aerial victories, and, in 1947, he became the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound when he piloted the Bell X-1 beyond Mach 1. Yeager was also the first to fly twice the speed of sound in level flight, when he took the Bell X-1A to Mach 2, in 1953.
One Operator Flies Two UCAVs
In a first, a single pilot-operator on Aug. 1 flew two unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) in coordinated flight.
Two Boeing X-45A aircraft took off in succession from Edwards AFB, Calif., joined up, then flew preset formations, making autonomous maneuvers to hold their relative positions, according to a company news release. A single pilot-operator was able to fly both aircraft because the X-45s flew the basic mission plan on their own.
The UCAVs are technology demonstrators in the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Air Force, and Navy. J-UCAS is being evaluated for suppression of enemy air defenses, strike, electronic attack, and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance missions.
USAF Aids Russian Terror Victims
Airlift crews from US Air Forces in Europe sent two C-130s with emergency relief supplies to southern Russia Sept. 6.
The humanitarian aid was to help Russia respond to the horrific attack in Beslan. At least 335 women and children were killed there by terrorist bombs and gunfire three days after the terrorists had attacked a school. Many others remained in critical condition days after the hostage situation ended.
The humanitarian aid included sheets and blankets, bandages and dressings, burn kits, medicine, and medical equipment, according to an Air Force news release.
Approximately 36,000 pounds of supplies were delivered to Russia, officials said. The Russians were “very thankful” for the aid, said AFRC Lt. Col. Richard L. Galante, commander of the 38th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein AB, Germany.
“They said it was nice that our countries were in such community with one another ... in the midst of tragedy,” added SSgt. Clayton E. Bronnee, a Russian linguist with Ramstein’s 426th Information Operations Squadron.
USAF OKs First SBIRS Payload
Air Force officials in July confirmed that the first Space Based Infrared System High (SBIRS High) space payload was ready for delivery. In August, prime contractor Lockheed Martin turned over the payload for integration with a host satellite. The first SBIRS launch is slated for 2007.
This payload will be one of two to go into highly elliptical orbit (HEO). According to Lockheed, it demonstrated “unsurpassed sensing, pointing, and control performance” during testing by subcontractor Northrop Grumman.
The HEO payload’s primary focus is to spot ballistic missile launches. In a secondary role, it will detect and report other militarily significant “infrared events,” stated Lockheed.
Once operational, the full SBIRS High system will include the two HEO payloads, four satellites in geosynchronous orbit, and fixed and mobile ground-based assets. The first phase of the ground segment has been operational since 2001, processing data from Defense Support Program satellites, due to be replaced by SBIRS High satellites.
Lockheed Wins ACS
Lockheed Martin beat out rival Northrop Grumman to win an $879 million Army contract to begin developing the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) for the Army and Navy. The ACS is a next generation airborne intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance and target identification system.The initial contract calls for five aircraft with mission-ready airborne ISR systems to be available for testing in 2006. Follow-on contracts for additional systems could raise the value of the program to more than $7 billion over 20 years.
The ACS, which is slated to replace the Army’s Guardrail and Airborne Reconnaissance Low aircraft and the Navy’s EP-3E, will be derived from the Brazilian Embraer business jet.
According to Lockheed Martin, ACS will offer “unprecedented sensor-computer integration that will pinpoint threats in real time.” It will also “provide instantaneous access to decision-quality intelligence” from various ISR systems, including USAF’s Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft, U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.
Three Airmen Make Olympics
Three of the 24 military personnel representing the US in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, were Air Force officers. They competed in race walking, hammer throwing, and fencing.
Capt. Kevin Eastler, 26, a missile combat crew commander at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and a 1999 Air Force Academy graduate, finished 21st in the men’s 20-kilometer race walk, held Aug. 20. Two other Americans were among the 48 walkers. Eastler finished a few seconds off the fastest time posted by any American in the event in Olympic history.
First Lt. James Parker, 28, a services officer at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., competed in the track and field hammer throw. He finished 21st out of a field of 33 in his qualifying round and did not make the finals. His first-place throw in the US Olympic trials was 254 feet, 6 inches.
Second Lt. Weston Kelsey, 22, who graduated from the academy last year, finished 19th out of 37 in the men’s individual epee fencing competition. Kelsey is a two-time national champion, who took World Cup bronze medals in 2002 and 2003.
Former Official Faces Jail
A federal judge in August accepted a “no contest” plea from Scott A. Fer-guson, the former collections chief at the Air Force Museum, on two counts in the theft of a “Peacekeeper” armored car from the museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
US District Judge Walter H. Rice set Oct. 29 for sentencing.
Ferguson became collections chief, the third highest position at the museum, in March 1995. In July 1996 he told his superiors that the museum’s 1980 two-door Cadillac-Gage Peacekeeper armored car had been requested by another military museum. He hid the vehicle in Ohio, taking it out to conventions in Tennessee and Pennsylvania, and, in 1999, sold it for $18,000.
Ferguson was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 and charged with transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines and selling a stolen vehicle. Each count carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
Last year, the Air Force formed a group to review operational procedures at the museum. (See “Aerospace World: USAF Reviews Museum Policies,” November 2003, p. 14.) Among its recommendations, the group said USAF should clarify the museum’s chain of command and the responsibilities within that body, and it said USAF should replace the current board of advisors with a board of directors. The group also recommended a stronger security program. (See “Aerospace World: Museum Needs More Oversight,” January, p. 13.)
Bush Outlines Overseas Basing Restructure
President Bush in August presented a rough outline of how the Defense Department will realign its overseas forces over the next 10 years. The plan would shift US military forces to a more expeditionary posture, abandoning outdated Cold War installations when possible.
Out of a total of 230 major US military bases, only 28 are on foreign soil. However, the US has “5,458 distinct and discrete military installations around the world,” said a senior defense official during a background briefing at the Pentagon. He said those “little pieces of property” now are deemed unnecessary.
Bush set many changes in motion, though details are still to be worked out with host nations worldwide. Over the next decade, Washington would close “hundreds of US facilities overseas” and bring home roughly 65,000 military personnel, according to a White House fact sheet. Also headed back to the United States are approximately 100,000 family members and DOD civilians.
There are about 230,000 US troops stationed overseas, primarily in Germany and South Korea. Shortly before Bush’s announcement, US and South Korean officials reached agreement on how to realign forces on the peninsula. (See “Korean Realignment Approved,” p. 26.)
In announcing the restructure plan, Bush said, “We will deploy a more-agile and more-flexible force, which means that more of our troops will be stationed [in the US] and deployed from here at home.”
That more-flexible force will make mobility assets “very important,” said a defense official, who added, “We have to move to the fight,” a requirement which will put a premium on strategic and tactical airlift and sealift.
Airpower in Europe may shift around somewhat. The Air Force has two F-16 squadrons at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. The senior official said, “For the moment, that’s where they’re going to stay.” He added that the US is continuing a dialogue with Turkey on “more-flexible use” of Incirlik AB, Turkey.
The Administration does plan to add more punch in the Pacific theater. “Advanced strike assets will be stationed in the Western Pacific,” the White House fact sheet stated. Officials at Pacific Air Forces have been calling for permanent basing of strike aircraft on Guam for several years.
The most dramatic change will be a major reduction of Army tank units based in Germany. Under the plan, the Army’s heavy forces designed for a land war in Europe will return to the US. They will be replaced by advanced, deployable capabilities, according to the fact sheet. In Germany, two of the Army’s heavy divisions will be withdrawn and replaced by a lighter-weight Stryker brigade that is “more relevant” to the threats around Europe, said the defense official.
No major movements are expected before 2006, and no final decisions on which US bases will host the returning forces will be made until after next year’s domestic base realignment and closure round is completed.
Defense officials at the briefing told reporters that the Pentagon is trying to get away from basing arrangements that were set up for reasons other than military capability. Policy in the past called for 100,000 troops in the Pacific and 100,000 troops in Europe. However, officials emphasized that bringing forces back to the United States is not a step toward a reduced force structure.
“It’s not our view that this will result in a force structure reduction in any of the services,” the official said. “That’s not what this plan is about.”
Martin Nominated To Head US Pacific Command
Gen. Gregory S. Martin on Aug. 19 was nominated to become commander of US Pacific Command, Camp Smith, Hawaii. If confirmed by the Senate, Martin would be the first officer from outside the Navy to lead PACOM. Martin is currently serving as commander of Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
The nomination follows a recent trend to break with tradition in naming new commanders. (See “Aerospace World: Rumsfeld Opts for Shifts at Two Key Spots,” August, p. 13.)
In June, Adm. Timothy J. Keating was named the new head of North American Aerospace Defense Command, ending what had been an Air Force monopoly on that position since NORAD’s founding.
At the same time, Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright was selected to head US Strategic Command. This is the first time STRATCOM has been led by someone other than an Air Force or Navy officer.
Also announced in August was the nomination of Gen. (sel.) Bruce A. Carlson to be Martin’s successor as AFMC commander. Carlson is currently serving as head of 8th Air Force, Barksdale AFB, La.
Airpower’s Contribution to OEF
USAF still has more than 18,000 airmen deployed to Southwest Asia to assist with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, an Air Combat Command news release in July noted. The launch of OEF on Oct. 7, 2001, marked the start of the overseas portion of the Global War on Terror.
In 1,000 days of operations (a milestone reached on July 3), US Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) and its coalition partners have:
CENTAF has been bolstered by aircraft of the Army, Navy, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command, as well as international members of the coalition team. In particular, ACC noted, the “now well-established joint and combined approach to ISR operations” has allowed the coalition to fuse data from multiple sensors and platforms into one picture, offering “more complete, precise, and timely” battlespace awareness.
ACC also said that, since the start of OEF, the way CENTAF fights has changed in ways that have enhanced airpower’s “effect and flexibility.” For example, CENTAF works more closely with ground commanders and intelligence agencies “to build a flexible air plan that meets the ground commander’s requirement for on-call close air support and allows quick access to potential time-sensitive strike areas.”
The “unsung heroes” of OEF, according to Lt. Gen. Walter E.L. Buchanan III, CENTAF commander, are mobility units. “Attention naturally gravitates to bombs dropped on target,” he said, but “without the Herculean efforts of our mobility forces, we would not have the people or resources available to make that happen.”
Hurricane Frances Blasts Canaveral, Patrick Bases
Two Air Force facilities in the state of Florida were hit hard by Hurricane Frances during Labor Day weekend. Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, both on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, sustained damage from the Category 2 hurricane that came ashore Sept. 4.
The first officials to return to Patrick were members of the 45th Hurricane Recovery Team, which consists of airmen from the base’s civil engineering and security forces squadrons. The hurricane team secured the base Sept. 7 and began removing debris so that normal air base operations could resume.
Brig. Gen. (sel.) Mark Owen, 45th Space Wing commander at Patrick, said the damage at the base “could reach into the tens of millions” of dollars. Exact figures require a comprehensive evaluation of the storm’s effects.
Much of the damage at Patrick resulted from the collapse of an empty hangar. The aircraft normally held there belong to the 920th Rescue Wing. As Frances approached, the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and a C-130 normally housed there were flown to Dobbins ARB, Ga., for protection.
At Cape Canaveral, scattered damage did not affect three rockets already in place on their launchpads, officials said. Three boosters—a Delta II, Delta IV, and Titan IV B—all “seem to have survived and weathered it just fine,” Owen told reporters.
NASA’s three space shuttles, meanwhile, were protected in hangars able to withstand 105 mph winds.
The Civil Air Patrol, USAF’s official civilian auxiliary, assisted with the storm assessment efforts. According to an Air Force news release, CAP members were to “capture and transmit aerial photos of the affected sites” for use by emergency responders.
Digital cameras aboard CAP aircraft were to take high-resolution photos to “help emergency relief agencies plan and prioritize rescue, repair, and cleanup efforts,” the release stated.
Financially, Frances is still expected to be the most destructive in Cape Canaveral’s history. (In August, Hurricane Charley caused a record $700,000 in damage to the air station.)
Airmen at Patrick and Cape Canaveral evacuated Sept. 2 as a precaution, because the storm was initially forecast to pack 145-mph winds. It was the first time officials had to evacuate Patrick since Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989.
The airmen were part of a larger evacuation of 2.5 million people from Florida’s coastal area. Among other preparations, 13 F-15s from the Florida Air National Guard unit at Jacksonville relocated to Scott AFB, Ill. Some officials also relocated to MacDill AFB, Fla., which was farther along the storm’s path.
By the time Frances came ashore, winds had declined, but the slow-moving hurricane still caused considerable wind and water damage.
DOD, USAF Face Off Over C-130J
The Defense Department Inspector General this summer released a report harshly critical of the acquisition program and performance of the C-130J airlifter. Service officials dispute IG claims.
The IG said the newest Hercules is unable to operate in combat theaters and that contractor Lockheed Martin has little incentive to deliver improved aircraft.
The Air Force, which manages the program, disagreed with all of the IG’s recommendations and findings. The service, in its response to the report, said that much of the report was based on outdated information. It did say that some facts were correct, but USAF added that the “findings and conclusions ascribed to these facts cannot be supported.”
The C-130J is a commercially developed follow-on to Lockheed Martin’s long-running C-130 line of airlifters. The Air Force, with endorsement from DOD and Congress, decided it would be cheaper to buy the C-130J “off-the-shelf” and then make necessary modifications to meet military requirements.
Congress has been a strong supporter of the program, increasing buys of the aircraft above what USAF had requested in recent budgets.
The Air Force began fielding the new airlifter in 1999 with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command. Overall, USAF plans to buy 168 and is purchasing another 33 on behalf of the Marine Corps.
Although the IG report said that “none” of the aircraft so far accepted by USAF had met “operational requirements,” the Marine Corps in late April announced the C-130Js it had received were ready for operational use. By September, the Air Force had not released its C-130Js for service outside the US; however, officials said they would do so by year’s end.
“It doesn’t have defensive systems, and it is not cleared for assault landing procedures from a software perspective,” stated Gen. John W. Handy, commander of US Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, during a breakfast meeting with reporters shortly after release of the IG report. Those were the reasons it was restricted from overseas operations. Handy said the software issues would be resolved by December. “Everything looks incredibly good,” he added.
The C-130J is already being used in combat in Southwest Asia—by the Royal Air Force and the Australian Air Force. (The United Kingdom bought the new airlifter before the US.) It is also being used by the military forces of Italy.
ANG’s 135th Airlift Group, Martin State Arpt., Md., the first Guard unit to receive the new aircraft, announced in May that it had surpassed the 10,000 flying hour mark in the C-130J.
The unit has been qualifying the service’s initial cadre of pilots and aircrew for the new cargo aircraft, which, according to Handy, is a “very software-intense aircraft.”
It is digital, where the earlier C-130s were analog. “There are going to be challenges,” said Handy. He called it a “birthing process” that is seen with any new weapon system and called the C-130J a “dramatic improvement” over older C-130s.
“The trends are all positive,” said Handy. “The timelines are being met. All the milestones are being met for a December deployment to the [Southwest Asia] theater.”
Korean Realignment Approved
US and South Korean officials in July approved a much-anticipated plan to realign US forces on the Korean peninsula. The Defense Department announced the agreement to “relocate all US forces from the Seoul metropolitan area to the Pyongtaek area,” near Osan Air Base, about 50 miles south of Seoul.
Seoul is home to the headquarters for US Forces Korea and hosts roughly 8,000 US troops.
The US will return the Yongsan Garrison’s territory in downtown Seoul to South Korean control. In return, South Korea will purchase new land and fund the construction of a new USFK headquarters, probably adjacent to Osan. According to the July 23 announcement, the relocation will be completed by the end of 2008.
Also finalized was an agreement to move the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division out of its network of camps near the Demilitarized Zone to enduring facilities in the Pyongtaek area. The timetable for this move will be determined later, stated the announcement.
The Iraq Story Continues
As of Aug. 31, a total of 978 Americans—975 troops and three DOD civilian employees—had died while officially supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Of those casualties, 732 were killed by hostile actions, while the other 246 died in noncombat incidents, such as accidents.
Since the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003, 837 troops have died in Iraq. Of those, 620 were in combat and 217 in nonhostile accidents. The three civilians were killed in the line of duty in two attacks earlier this year.
Combat, Air Strikes Consume Najaf
Intense fighting, both on the ground and through air strikes, engulfed the city of Najaf for much of the month of August. An uprising led by militant strongman Muqtada al-Sadr began Aug. 5, and combat with Marines and coalition airpower was still ongoing two weeks later.
On Aug. 17, US aircraft attacked a target in Najaf’s sprawling cemetery, where many of al-Sadr’s supporters had holed up. Wire reports quoted Marine Lt. Col. Thomas V. Johnson saying the aircraft fired “one precision guided missile on a building in the cemetery” from which militiamen with rocket-propelled grenades had been firing on US troops.
A week earlier, officials had warned that the cemetery would not be a safe haven. “We will not allow [insurgents] to continue to desecrate this sacred site” by using it as an operating base, said Marine Col. Anthony Haslem, commander of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “There will be no sanctuary for thugs and criminals in Najaf.”
DOD Develops New “Captivity Curriculum”
The Defense Department plans to revamp its training to help troops avoid capture and know what to do if they do become prisoners. The Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, Ft. Belvoir, Va., is expected to produce a new “core captivity curriculum” this year.
According to Air Force Col. Mark Bracich, JPRA’s director of policy, doctrine, and training, the new curriculum is being developed jointly by the services. Each will incorporate it into its service-specific survival, evasion, resistance, and escape schools.
Traditionally, aircrews were at high risk of capture if they were shot down over enemy territory. Today, however, more personnel are at high risk in the modern, asymmetric battlespace, said Bracich. The new training applies to personnel on peacekeeping, humanitarian, and noncombat support missions. Troops are as likely to be taken hostage by a splinter group as they are by a recognized enemy army.
The first prisoners of war of Operation Iraqi Freedom weren’t pilots or infantry soldiers—they were combat-support troops.
Did Berger Smuggle Papers in his Pants?
Former National Security Advisor Samuel L. Berger was under investigation by the Justice Department for possible improper handling of classified documents during the 9/11 Commission’s investigation. Reportedly, National Archives staff members saw Berger stuffing documents into his jacket, pants, and socks.
Berger, who was advisor during the Clinton Administration, allegedly removed classified documents and notes from the archives while he was preparing for testimony before the commission. The investigation began after archive employees reported his actions.
Berger’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, denied the pants-stuffing allegation.
The Wall Street Journal on July 30 reported that archive officials had determined that no original materials were missing and nothing Berger reviewed was withheld from the commission.
General counsel for the commission, Daniel Marcus, told WSJ that the Justice Department was “satisfied that we’ve [the commission] seen everything.” As of late August, the case was apparently still active.
Foglesong Calls for Action To Cut Mishaps
A recent rash of mishaps at US Air Forces in Europe facilities prompted Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, USAFE commander, to demand greater attention to detail.
“Several mishaps within the past two months could have been averted if individuals had paid more attention to detail in their activity at hand,” the general wrote in a July 27 statement.
The surge in mishaps is a “disturbing trend that must be stopped before we lose an aircraft or, worse, a life,” he wrote.
The incidents included ingestion of a plastic cover by an F-16 engine, aircrew-caused damage to a KC-135 tanker’s multipoint refueling system, and a C-130 propeller unit on a forklift dropped in transit.
“In each case, there appears to have been an opportunity for the individuals involved to pay closer attention to the task at hand,” Foglesong wrote.
“We cannot afford to lose combat capability by destroying an aircraft, aircraft parts, or other resources,” he wrote. And USAFE cannot replace an airman’s skills “if he or she is injured or killed in a preventable mishap.”
News NotesBy Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
Daily Report: 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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