Military News

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Air Force Nuclear Force Anticipates Budget Constraints


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2013 – The Air Force Global Strike Command predicts budget cuts triggered by sequestration will reduce B-52 flying hours by 10 percent and lead to a 20 percent reduction in overall flying hours should the law kick in on March 1, Air Force Lt. Gen. James M. Kowalski said.

Kowalski, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, spoke to reporters at the Defense Writers Group here today.

The command handles two parts of the nation’s nuclear triad: manned bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The general said he’s satisfied with readiness in the command today, but the fiscal problems confronting the military in the months and years ahead would, at best, cause readiness to level off or decline.

“As we look downstream at the continuing impacts of both the continuing resolution and sequestration, it’s pretty clear there’s going to be some degradation there,” he said.

The biggest and most disturbing impact for the command is on flying hours, Kowalski said.
“We are looking at up to a 20-percent reduction in flying hours,” he said.

One defense is to keep the sortie count high, Kowalski said, because the importance of flying hours is not just the time in the air for aircrews. Sorties exercise the entire process, he said, generating aircraft, fueling aircraft, arming bombs, recovering the aircraft, the maintenance of the aircraft and so on.

“All of that is exercised because that’s what we pick up and deploy to a forward operating base,” Kowalski said. “What we want to do is maintain the sortie count to maintain readiness across all of those.”

The general said he’s carefully keeping an eye on personnel issues in the command as well. There is an issue with airmen in the missile fields, he said, noting this is remote duty and there are concerns about the suicide rate among these personnel.

Reenlistment has not been a problem within Global Strike Command to date, Kowalski said. Part of the willingness to reenlist may be tied to the state of the economy, he said, and part of it is because the young airmen believe in the mission.

“All of those folks are going to continue to do a great job, but they need to know what to do and they need to know that what they are doing is important,” Kowalski said. “We have been very active in reminding them of the job’s importance.”

The force structure may change in the command, the general said, but it doesn’t change the basic mission for the command.

“This is one of the most important missions in the military -- to make sure that the nuclear inventory remains safe, secure and effective,” Kowalski said.

Leadership roundtable demonstrates solidified partnership

by Capt. Chris Hoyler
Cope North 13 Public Affairs


2/6/2013 - Cope North 2013 Public Affairs, Andersen AFB -- With nearly 2,000 Airmen from three countries beginning two weeks of intense training at Cope North 2013 Feb. 4, leaders from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force discussed the invaluable impact the exercise has on the readiness of their forces.

Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, was joined by Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka, JASDF Air Support Command commander, and Air Commodore Anthony Grady, RAAF Air Combat Group commander, in addressing their respective objectives for the exercise and how it increases the combat readiness and interoperability of their forces.

"Cope North has evolved and it has matured to become a better training and interoperability exercise for our nations," Carlisle said.

The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training, being conducted through Feb. 7 at four airfields on Guam, Tinian and Saipan, has proved particularly vital following the international support for Japan during Operation Tomodachi in March 2011.

"The HA/DR component is particularly important, since it is a real-world requirement that is clearly going to provide disproportionate value when our nations most need it," Grady said.

This year, Republic of Korea Air Force members are observing the HA/DR training for the first time, opening the possibility for participation and an increased presence at future Cope North exercises.

"The statement about the Pacific is not if a natural disaster will happen, but when, given the environment," Carlisle said. "So we see the HA/DR portion of the exercise increasing. There is a potential to invite the Republic of Korea as more than observers, and there is certainly the opportunity to invite other nations that may be interested."

With Cope North now in its third year of tri-lateral involvement, the concept of shared objectives for the training has become central to ensuring success during the exercise and in establishing improved readiness in the event of a real-world tri-lateral military response.

"We have three objectives," Hironaka said. "One is to develop our tactical capabilities. Second is to enhance our interoperability among each country. And third is to bolster the military understanding between the countries."

The Large Force Employment portion of Cope North, which has been part of the exercise since its inception in 1978, is critical in developing a multilateral common operational picture using U.S., Japanese, and Australian airborne and land-based command and control assets. Each day of the exercise sees morning and afternoon rounds of aerial operations involving fighter, refueling and command and control aircraft from all three nations. This provides an optimal training environment to develop multilateral interoperability and combined procedures for air power missions, which include air superiority, interdiction, electronic warfare, tactical airlift, aerial refueling.

"All nations are developing their capabilities," Carlisle said. "Some of them are done in cooperation, like the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35, and some of them are individual programs, like the Wedgetail for the Australians. We continue to work interoperability, and that's one of the things that Cope North is great at. We get a chance to exercise that interoperability and find out where those glitches are and where things aren't talking to each other when we think they should be.

"We see where those seams are and where those interoperability questions are, and we can get better at making those systems talk to each other. It's not prohibitive, it doesn't stop us from anything, it just forces us to figure out how to make it work," Carlisle added.

Financial, Employment Training Aids Soldiers, Vets

By Ashley Roy
Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center

EDINBURGH, Ind., Feb. 6, 2013 – The Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center here recently implemented the Veteran’s Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act, a national program designed to assist transitioning soldiers with financial and career planning.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Soldiers take part in a financial planning course at the Veteran’s Opportunity to Work program at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind., Feb. 1, 2012. U.S. Army Photo by Ashley Roy
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Signed into law in 2011, the program was implemented on November 21, 2012, in an effort to reduce unemployment and debt among veterans.

A 2011 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12.1 percent of veterans who served on active duty post-9/11 are unemployed. Among young male veterans, age 18 to 24, the unemployment rate rises to 29.1 percent.

Debt is another problem. According to Debt.org, military personnel generally carry more debt than their civilian counterparts, and a quarter of military personnel with credit card debt owe an excess of $10,000.

With veteran unemployment rates higher than the national average, President Barack Obama has made it a priority to get soldiers programs to easily transition from military to civilian life.

The VOW program is mandatory for all reserve component members who serve 180 days or more on active duty.

“This program was created because we have seen in the news for the past five years, all these soldiers that have been coming from the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war, and they don’t have a job,” said Army Lt. Col. Mary Shaw, Camp Atterbury’s deputy director for the directorate of human resources.

Soldiers can expect seven additional hours of class time during mobilization training, and two extra days during demobilization which allows them to attend a budgeting course, sign up for VA benefits and learn how to transition their military skills during the military occupational specialty crosswalk.

“This program will help soldiers create a resume, and on that resume also provide a lot of information to transition military skills, such as infantry soldier, into skills that can be used in the civilian marketplace,” Shaw said.

Soldiers that are unemployed or underemployed are mandated to attend a three-day Department of Labor workshop, given at the state level, as well.

“Our budget class has been pretty popular. It’s given soldiers the tools to figure out, ‘Hey this is how I should be managing my money,’ specifically for credit monitoring,” Shaw said. “We really encourage soldiers to do credit monitoring while they’re deployed, so they can see what’s happening to their money while they’re away.”

According to Shaw, these programs mirror the Army Career and Alumni Program that has been in place for active-duty soldiers for more than 20 years.

Soldiers from the Installation Support Unit at Camp Atterbury and Nebraska’s Agricultural Development Team 4 underwent the financial planning portion of the VOW program on Feb. 1, 2012, taught by Kurt Ault, an ACAP financial counselor out of Fort Sheridan, Ill.

Ault instructed soldiers on creating a monthly budget plan, reducing debt, managing credit scores and planning for finances long-term.

USS Truman, USS Gettysburg Deployment Delayed

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2013 – The deployment of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg to the U.S. Central Command area of operations has been delayed, according to a statement issued today by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

The Secretary of Defense has delayed the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and the USS Gettysburg (CG-64), which were scheduled to depart later this week for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Responsibility, Little said in his statement.

The USS Harry S. Truman is home-based at Norfolk, Va., and the USS Gettysburg is home-based at Mayport, Fla. Little's statement continues as follows:

“Facing budget uncertainty -- including a Continuing Resolution and the looming potential for across-the-board sequestration cuts -- the U.S. Navy made this request to the Secretary and he approved. This prudent decision enables the U.S. Navy to maintain these ships to deploy on short notice in the event they are needed to respond to national security contingencies.

“The United States will continue to maintain a robust military presence in the CENTCOM region, including the current carrier presence and a mix of other assets, to fulfill enduring commitments to our partners. The U.S. military continues to stand ready to respond to any contingency and to confront any threat in the region."

Panetta Discusses 2014 Defense Budget Request

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2013 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta revealed that the proposed military pay raise for 2014 is 1 percent, and that the department is proceeding in a logical, careful way to do its part to cut the deficit and preserve military capabilities.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answer questions during a media roundtable at the Pentagon, Feb. 6, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the Pentagon during a reporters roundtable about what the 2014 budget proposal would look like and what the threat of budget uncertainty -- including the looming threat of sequester -- would mean to it.

In a normal year, defense officials would be discussing the fiscal 2014 DOD budget request now. But this year is far from normal, and officials do not expect the budget to even go to Congress until late in March.

The budget the secretary outlined includes the $487 billion in cuts that were proposed in 2011. The budget also is based on the defense strategy unveiled in January 2012. It “really does set a framework for what the force of the 21st century should look like,” Panetta said.

What’s most important is the budget proposal would “protect the strongest military on Earth,” he said.
The fiscal year 2014 budget proposal also requests a military pay raise of 1 percent.

“No one is getting a pay cut, but we will provide a pay raise that’s smaller than we’ve seen in past years in order to achieve some savings by virtue of what we confront in the compensation area,” Panetta said.

The DOD will ask for money for new investment in transition assistance, sexual assault prevention, suicide prevention, and family programs to boost support for the all-volunteer force.

The department needs to get personnel costs under control, Panetta said. These accounts have grown 80 percent since 2003, and if steps are not taken now it would force the department to cut military end strength and sacrifice readiness.

Congress has approved a DOD request for a commission to look at military retirement, the secretary said.
“We will stress that retirement benefits would be grandfathered,” Panetta said, noting the department will continue to look for savings in the military’s TRICARE health program.

The secretary stressed that the budget would find savings in overhead and efficiencies.

“We have identified $30 billion in new initiatives over the next five years to eliminate overhead and duplication,” he said. The department will consolidate capabilities and look to new technologies for more savings.

In the budget, the secretary proposes another round of base closures and realignments. “We will have to because … you can’t have a huge infrastructure supporting a reduced force,” he said.

The budget continues the glide path for reductions in land, naval and air forces detailed last year. Ultimately, the Army will go down to 490,000 active duty soldiers and the Marine Corps to 182,000 troops.

The department will propose some additional cuts to the Air Force and “we will resubmit some of our proposed cuts to the Navy,” Panetta said. These are proposals that Congress rejected last year.

The department will continue to push for growth in special operations capability and cyber warfare experts.
The department must continue to modernize the force and the budget continues the push for tactical fighters, aerial refueling capabilities, ballistic-missile subs and bombers, Panetta said. New capabilities include sea-based unmanned aerial vehicles, cyber tools and space systems.

This is the bare bones of the fiscal year 2014 budget, but it would all go out the window if sequestration occurs on March 1.

DOD is taking steps to confront sequestration “because at the spend rate we’re on now … if we continue it will be that much more of a blow,” Panetta said. The department has ordered hiring freezes, cutting back on maintenance and in other areas.

And, budget uncertainty -- including a continuing resolution and the looming potential for across-the-board sequestration cuts -- has caused DOD to delay the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.

If sequester happens, DOD is looking at furloughs for as many as 800,000 civilian employees. This would mean a 20-percent pay cut.

“It’s a lousy, lousy way to treat people frankly,” the secretary said.

Sequestration cuts Army training, Air Force and Navy flight hours, and shrinks ship operations.

“These are real consequences and our fear is that it really is going to cause a readiness crisis for the military to respond to the crises that we still have to confront in the world,” Panetta said.