Military News

Friday, March 07, 2014

DOD Official Discusses Nuclear Deterrence in Congress



By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 7, 2014 – The Defense Department’s nuclear deterrent is the ultimate protection for the United States while also assuring distant allies of their security against regional aggression, a senior Pentagon official told Congress yesterday.

Elaine Bunn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee that while Defense Department modernization goals largely have not changed since 2010, some adjustments are on the horizon.

One such change, she reported, involves the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty force structure. “The administration is considering how to reduce nondeployed strategic delivery vehicles to comply with the limits of the new START treaty by February 2018,” she said, “and we will make a final force structure decision and inform Congress prior to the start of fiscal year 2015.”

Bunn expressed concern about Russian activity that appears to be inconsistent with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. “We've raised the issue with Russia,” she told the senators. They provided an answer that was not satisfactory to us, and we told them that the issue is not closed.”

With regard to recent ethical issues involving Air Force and Navy nuclear personnel, Bunn noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has created both internal and external special review panels. “Those reviews are not about assigning blame,” she said. “They're about identifying, assessing, and correcting any systemic deficiencies that we may uncover and in applying the best practices for carrying out our nuclear mission across the nuclear force.”

Bunn also said the recently released 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review makes clear the key role of nuclear forces in the DOD strategy.

“It … supports our ability to project power by communicating to potential nuclear-armed adversaries that they cannot escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression,” Bunn said. The department's budget request for fiscal year 2015 supports DOD’s nuclear policy goals as laid out in the 2010 nuclear posture review, in President Barack Obama’s June 2013 nuclear employment strategy, and in the 2014 QDR, she added. As a result, Bunn reported, Pentagon officials will continue to ensure that the current and future administrations have suitable options for deterring, responding to, and managing a diverse range of situations, including regional deterrence challenges.

“We continue to work closely with our allies, some of whom live in very dangerous neighborhoods, to ensure continuing confidence in our shared national security goals, including assurance of our extended nuclear deterrence commitments,” she told the Senate panel.

Critical to maintaining a safe, secure and effective force is the preservation of the nuclear triad: strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Bunn said.

Pilot training exhausting, challenging, rewarding

by Senior Airman Jason Colbert
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/7/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 308th Fighter Squadron has more than 45 pilots who are dedicated to the training and certification of F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots. But the FS only gets the new pilots after they have already been through officer training and initial flight training.

"We're responsible for taking the new lieutenants that show up fresh out of pilot training and teach them how to become F-16 pilots," said Lt. Col. Christopher Bacon, 308th FS commander. "We also take the Airmen from Air Staff who are no longer qualified and senior leaders who need to requalify on the jet."

The courses that pilots go through are syllabus driven, meaning all of the flights have preplanned requirements, known to the pilots as "asterisks items," due to an asterisk put by each line item. Managing the pilots falls to the squadron's flight commanders.

"The pilots, both new and old, get similar training," said Capt. Rolf Tellefsen, 308th FS Charlie Flight commander. "I have a group of 12 instructor pilots, and in a year we get upward of 100 students coming through the squadron."

The pilots attend 350 hours of academic courses and must endure at least six months of flying sorties four to five times a week. In that time, they have many lessons to learn.

The IPs start with teaching new pilots the basics of how to fly and land the aircraft. They follow with air-to-air, offensive and defensive maneuvers, and high-aspect flights eventually transitioning to learning to employ their radar, run intercepts and perform long-range missile employment. They learn to "fight their way in, drop bombs and fight their way out" during some of the final missions.

"It's pretty challenging to do that," Tellefsen said. "It keeps us on our toes since it is a wide variety of things to teach."

Each training sortie lasts an average of 1.3 hours, but can last upward of two-and-a-half hours. One to two hours in the aircraft may seem like a short time for the pilot, but that time is spent under pressure, both physically and figuratively.

Pilots routinely put themselves through four to nine Gs. What this means is that their bodies are subjected to four to nine times the force of Earth's gravity, causing them to feel that many times heavier. This pressure causes the blood to leave the brain and other vital organs and move into lower extremities like the feet. The maneuvers required to stay conscious require a lot of strength.

"I work out at least four to five times a week," Tellefsen said. "The level of muscular strength needed for pulling Gs, maintaining consciousness during the G-strain, and the aerobic side needed to last the distance of the mission is significant. You don't want your body failing and unable to pull Gs late in the mission."

On top of the physical strain, the pilots are subjected to a mental barrage while flying.

"It is a constant stream of thoughts," Bacon said. "Navigating, flying in the right direction, calculating fuel, checking your wingman's gas, target studies; it is one of the most physically and mentally exhausting jobs I've ever been associated with."

But, most pilots agree, it's all worth the demanding training when they deploy to a combat situation and help save the lives of service members on the ground.

"I think one the toughest missions I ever flew was the first day of Operation Anaconda," Bacon said. "My wingman and I were on scene when the Army got pinned down. It ended up being a 13-hour sortie that day. We cleaned off the rails, meaning we dropped all of our bombs. Almost every single bomb we dropped was in close proximity to Army troops and Airmen fighting on the ground. It was an emotionally exhausting day.

"It was frustrating from my perspective," he said, "because we couldn't help everybody. We were just a single two-ship trying to support the Army effort going down on the ground. One of the greatest roles a pilot can play is supporting the troops on the ground."

The pilots of the U.S. Air Force work to complete the missions assigned to them. They undergo rigorous training and must maintain themselves physically.

"I'm proud of the type of professional individuals I work with every day," Bacon said. "I'm proud to be part of the Luke team and a member of the Emerald Knights. Strength and honor!"

Altus named installation excellence award winner

by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


3/7/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Air Force officials announced Altus Air Force Base as the Air Force's Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award winner March 6.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III broke the news to a crowded hangar of Airmen during a 97th Air Mobility Wing all-call during his visit to the base.

"Congratulations. That's a phenomenal accomplishment. It takes everybody in a wing to make it happen, and it takes everybody in the community to support you to accomplish this," Welsh said. "It's really exciting news for all of us."

In addition to recognition as the best base in the Air Force, a monetary incentive of $1 million will be awarded for future quality of life improvements.

"This just confirms what I've known all along; the Mighty 97th has the best active duty, reserve and civilian Airmen and what you've accomplished in the last year is nothing short of phenomenal," said Col. Bill Spangenthal, the commander of the 97th. "Our focus on accomplishing the mission, developing our Airmen and caring for our families is the motivation to achieve even greater results in the future."

Air Education and Training Command commander Gen. Robin Rand announced the wing as the AETC nominee for the award in November. The 97th went on to represent the command at the Air Force level. It was finally narrowed down to Altus AFB and Travis Air Force Base, Calif., as the final competitors.

A selection board consisting of four colonels visited in January to see the Mighty 97th in action.

"Altus AFB has stood out as an example in innovation and cost-savings across our Air Force," Rand said. "This is a collective reflection of dedicated Airmen contributing to overall mission success. The result of their hard work can be seen throughout the service and around the world through global mobility. Thank you for your commitment to excellence."

Welsh and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody came to Altus to thank Airmen and their families, and to learn more about the training and support missions here, serving as a perfect opportunity to announce the award.

"It's a testament to what you do every single day for our Air Force," Cody said. "You're not asking for anybody to identify you for what you do, but you do it for a chance to serve your country. It's well deserved."

To win the award, an installation must demonstrate exemplary support for the Department of Defense mission and show marked improvement and innovative progress in various processes that are fundamental to an installation's successful operations.

As the Air Force's top installation, Altus is the nomination to the Secretary of Defense for the 2014 Commander in Chief's Installation Excellence Award.

Open house to reunite Tuskegee Airmen, P-51

by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/7/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- The U.S. military was racially segregated during World War II. Reflecting American society and law at the time, most black Soldiers and Sailors were restricted to labor battalions and other support positions. An experiment in the U.S. Army Air Forces, however, showed that given equal opportunity and training, black Americans could fly, command and support combat units as well as anyone.

The black fliers, known as "Tuskegee Airmen," served with distinction in combat and directly contributed to the eventual integration of the U.S. armed services, with the Air Force leading the way.

In 1946, the 332nd Fighter Group Tuskegee Airmen made their way in a squadron deployment to Luke Air Force Base in an attempt to get away from the snow and ice of Michigan so they could continue their mission. One of the aircraft they flew into WWII combat was the P-51 Mustang, which was also at Luke in 1946.

Tuskegee Airmen and the P-51 will be together again March 15 and 16 for the "Lightning in the Desert" Open House and Air Show at Luke.

The rich heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen will be featured in an interactive display during the two-day event, said retired Lt. Col. Larry Jackson, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. Western region president. The display includes a traveling movie theater with a 160-degree curved panoramic screen as well as a photographic display of the Airmen's exploits. Original Tuskegee Airmen will be alongside the exhibit to answer questions and sign autographs.

"The Tuskegee Airmen have close ties to the 944th Fighter Wing because the 301st and 302nd fighter squadrons were under the 944th FW. The two were WWII Tuskegee Airmen squadrons within the 332nd Fighter Group," Jackson said. "The Tuskegee Airmen and local chapter members are invited to many functions hosted by the 944th and 56th fighter wings."

Though the Tuskegee Airmen heritage squadrons are no longer active at Luke, there is an effort to remember the contributions of these Airmen.

"We try to keep our relationship with the Tuskegee Airmen strong," said Maj. Elizabeth Magnusson, 944th FW Public Affairs chief. "They have inspired generations and continue to inspire us."

The P-51 Mustang the Tuskegee Airmen flew in WWII dramatically improved the success of the Allied Forces because of its ability to fly longer distances to escort bombers deeper into enemy territory.

"During WWII, if you flew the bombers unescorted you could lose an unacceptable number of them," said Rick Griset, 56th FW historian. "The P-51 was the answer to the question of needing a long-range escort for the bombers."

The success of the Tuskegee Airmen was thanks in part to the P-51's ability to fire 1,880 rounds from its six 50-caliber machine guns and its combat range of about 800 miles.
"Many historians consider the P-51 the premier fighter of the war," Griset said.

It is a rare opportunity to meet original Tuskegee Airmen and see one of the fighters they flew in a single place, Jackson said. The historical significance of these Airmen cannot be overstated.

"These men and women led the way for integration of the Armed Forces and were at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the U.S.," he said. "As a retired pilot, I know I stand on the shoulders of the Tuskegee Airmen. They made it possible for me to do what I have done."

For more information on the "Lightning in the Desert" Open House and Air Show, visit www.luke.af.mil and click the Open House and Air Show graphic.

Portions of this article were taken from the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Navy Surgeon General Focuses on Global Health Security




By Capt. Dora Lockwood, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

HANOI, Vietnam (NNS) -- HANOI, Vietnam (NNS) - Vice Adm. Matthew Nathan, Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery completed a visit to Vietnam, March 3.

During his visit to Hanoi, Nathan met with Army Maj. Gen. Vu Quoc Binh, Director General, Military Medical Department, Vietnam People's Army (VPA), to discuss recent advances in military medicine and future health partnerships between Navy Medicine and the VPA.

Nathan received an informational brief about Vietnam's military medical department, which included medical priorities, current projects, challenges and future areas for collaboration. He also toured several medical facilities, including the National Institute of Burns (NIB), Military Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology (MIHE), and 108 Military Central Hospital.

Nathan stressed the importance of continuing military medical partnerships and working side-by-side to learn more from one another.

"One of the most impressive things to me is your military medicine's importance to your country," said Nathan. "In the United States, our military providers don't understand malaria, dengue, or avian flu as well as you do. We're eager to learn from you."

Bihn stated the hands-on exchanges are highlights of the cooperation between the militaries. He specifically recognized the Vietnam Interventional Burn Management Subject Matter Expert Exchange with the NIB and Naval Medical Center San Diego in 2013, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and recent conferences with U.S. Pacific Command as great examples of working together and learning from one another.

"Between you and me, we need to find out which of the activities are very effective and that we need to continue to promote," said Bihn. "Of course we want everything to be good, but we must prioritize our efforts."

Bihn also discussed challenges VPA is facing. He proposed future military medical cooperation with the U.S. Navy in the areas of infectious disease research, nursing care and laboratory development.

Nathan concluded by reiterating the importance of continued cooperation to advance global health security.

"There's no such thing as a local illness. All infections are global in today's connected world," said Nathan. "Infections that concern you here in Vietnam, concern us in the United States. At the end of the day, you and I have the same job. We are both responsible for keeping our soldiers and sailors strong, healthy and operationally ready. By cooperating together, we can make a difference."

U.S. Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

VCNO Announces Further Flag Officer Adjustments



By Defense Media Activity - Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mark Ferguson, announced the next phase of Flag officer billet adjustments, projected to bring the Navy into compliance with Office of the Secretary of Defense guidance.

The adjustments are in addition to the reduction of 35 Navy flag officer positions announced in August 2013.

The phased reduction, elimination, or consolidation of flag officer billets is scheduled to be complete by March 2016 and will occur as the officers effect permanent change of station moves or retire. This plan will allow for 151 flag officers to fill Navy-specific billets and 64 Navy flag officers to fill existing requirements for joint billets.

"The overall Flag billet plan balances these adjustments across officer communities, including Line, Restricted Line and Staff Corps. It also enables the Navy to provide more stability and predictability in the flag officer promotion process while meeting statutory requirements," Adm. Ferguson explained.

Specific billets affected by this plan include:

Eliminations

- Deputy Chief of the Navy Reserve. The current billet is filled by an active duty Rear Adm. (lower half).

- Director of Intelligence Operations (N2/N6I). The current billet is filled by an active duty Rear Adm. (lower half).

- Director, Maritime Headquarters, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. The current billet is filled by an active duty Rear Adm. (lower half).

Shift from Active Duty to Reserves

- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet will transition from an active duty Rear Adm. (upper half) to a recalled reservist of the same rank.

- Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command for Global Logistics Support will transition from an active duty Rear Adm. (lower half) to a recalled reservist of the same rank.

Increase in Seniority

- Commander, Navy Cyber Command will increase in seniority from a Rear Adm. (lower half) to a Rear Adm. (upper half). The command will also become Information Dominance Forces Command, the Echelon II type commander for the Information Dominance Corps. This increase in seniority allows for better management of senior officers in the Information Dominance career field.

- Program Executive Officer for Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Programs (PEO-A) will increase in seniority from a Rear Adm. (lower half) to a Rear Adm. (upper half). This increase in seniority is commensurate with the scope of responsibility for the billet and helps balance the acquisition corps billet structure.
Billet shift

- Commander, Navy Air and Missile Defense Command, a Rear Adm. (lower half), will shift to a new command, the Navy Surface Warfare Development Command and remain at the same rank.

Merger and Elimination

- Oceanographer of the Navy; Navigator of the Navy; and Director, Space and Maritime Domain Awareness (OPNAV N2/N6E), previously commanded by a Rear Adm. (upper half), will merge with Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. The new billet will be filled by a U.S. Navy Rear Adm. (lower half). The billet will be located at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

"Our goal remains to operate more efficiently and effectively while strengthening our warfighting capabilities. Shifting two billets to the Reserve Force recognizes their significant contribution to combat operations, their operational expertise, and their integrated service with the active duty component," Adm. Ferguson said. "As warfare requirements evolve, we will continue to assess our flag officer billet structure while seeking opportunities to further integrate our Reserve and Active Duty components."

Alexander: U.S. Must Address Media Leaks, Cyber Legislation



By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 7, 2014 – Leaks to the media of classified information and the need for cyber legislation were key elements of a speech this week by Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.

“What's going on in media leaks directly affects our ability to get cyber legislation,” Alexander told an audience at Georgetown University, “and we have to address both as a nation and amongst nations. We've got to get this right.”

Recent media leaks include those by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who last year fled the United States for temporary asylum in Russia, after stealing 1.7 million intelligence files from NSA concerning the agency’s surveillance activities and later disclosing thousands of documents to reporters at London’s Guardian newspaper and the Washington Post.

The Justice Department has since charged Snowden, now a fugitive, with espionage and theft of government documents. The massive leak launched a continuing public debate, a presidential review of NSA intelligence-collection practices, and a range of intelligence reforms announced Jan. 17 by President Barack Obama.

On media leaks, Alexander offered his own perspective on a Feb. 19 ruling by a British high court against David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who had published articles and was planning to produce more stories based on Snowden’s stolen NSA data.

Miranda was detained for nine hours Aug. 19 after two British counterterrorism-unit police officers searched him at Heathrow Airport and found he was carrying encrypted material derived from NSA data stolen by Snowden.  He was held under the authority of paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 7 of the United Kingdom Terrorism Act 2000, and filed an application for judicial review of the detention, which he said took place without legal authority.

On Feb. 19, a court dismissed Miranda’s application.

“We’re now in an interesting situation as a nation,” Alexander said of the wide-ranging debate over the Snowden leaks, adding that the U.K. justices in the Miranda case determined that “journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues.”

In the Miranda case, the British court found that journalists have a “professional responsibility to take care so far as they are able to see that the public interest, including the security of the state and the lives of other people, is not endangered by what they publish.”

But the court called such a safeguard inadequate for lives and security because of what was described as the “jigsaw” nature of intelligence information -- a range of data and facts pieced together over time by different agencies -- and because journalists have their own take on what serves the public interest, and added that “constitutional responsibility for the protection of national security lies with elected government.”

“I just put that on the table,” Alexander said, “because that’s a key issue that we as a nation are going to face.”

The general said the leaks have caused “grave, significant and irreversible damage to our nation and to our allies. It will take us years to recover from it. In some areas like terrorism, I feel like someone else is going to pay the price for what’s [been] done.”

The latest large distributed-denial-of-service attacks, one in May and one in June 2013, Alexander said, caused more than $180 million in damage to systems in South Korea.

“There is a great need for our nation to get cyber legislation and work with other nations [to] set up norms” to help defend against the rising number of adversaries.

Media leaks have made it necessary to address such issues as a nation, the general said, including public discussion in the United States about what the government should and should not do as part of its cyber security responsibilities.

Alexander said that in preparation for an evolving cyber future, Cyber Command is working on five priorities:

-- Establishing a defensible architecture -- a thin virtual cloud architecture that turns the advantage to those who defend the networks and that offers the ability to fix vulnerabilities at network speed.

-- Maintaining a trained and ready force by educating everyone, including those at Cyber Command, to the high standard used for NSA’s elite forces.

-- Establishing cyberspace operational concepts and command and control for the many teams operating there. Alexander said Cyber Command is working on virtual and physical command and control, and streamlining command and control from the president and defense secretary to Cyber Command and others.

-- Developing shared situational awareness in cyberspace as a way to visualize it and everything that can happen there so military leaders can understand what they’re facing and what’s needed to deny the adversary that capability. “If we can’t visualize [cyberspace] and transfer that thought to someone else, we won’t have a common way of stopping [adversaries],” the general said. “For the cyber courses we have to have it, so we’re building a common operational picture.”

-- Giving NSA and Cyber Command authority to share back with industry malware signatures and information about cyber attacks or cyber exploits.

A final critical issue, the general said, is for the nation to determine a way for the government and other nations to work together in cyberspace, “so everybody understands what the norms and the red lines are and how we'll track them.”

Alexander added, “Why do we need cyber legislation? NSA has great insights, as does Cyber Command, about threats against our nation. Wall Street, the power companies and the rest of government don't have a way to protect themselves [if we don’t work] together with them.”

Today, NSA and Cyber Command probably wouldn’t see an incoming attack or exploit against Wall Street, he said.

Despite everything that’s been said about the domestic collection capabilities of NSA, “the fact is we don't have the ability to see [such commercial activity], and Internet service providers and others are forbidden to share that information with the government – the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, NSA and Cyber Command -- because of restrictions put forth in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act.”

The issue, he said, is that “we have capabilities to help defend the nation, but we don't have a way to share them back and forth. And if we did share something, we'd have to figure out how to work liability with those companies so they're protected from the facts we've given them.”

Such liability protection would shelter companies from customer civil suits based on company cybersecurity activities performed as partners with government agencies, he explained.

“This is a team sport -- [it’s] not just NSA and Cyber Command. It’s DHS, FBI and many others,” Alexander said. “The government has to work with industry, we have to have the … policies and we’re working our way through [them], but the key thing we need is legislation.”

NSA and Cyber Command, FBI and other agencies may know something about an adversary’s ability to exploit or attack a network, he explained. “If it’s classified, how do we share that?” he asked. “And if we share that, how do they give that information back to us?”

Much needs to be accomplished between government and industry and within the U.S. government to get the authorities issue right, the general said. “We have a lot of capabilities in our government that we ought to share, analogous to the way we share capabilities to defend our nation in physical space,” he added.

“If a bank is attacked by another nation state [in cyberspace], our country shouldn’t say to that bank, ‘Good luck with that.’ Because if that bank were attacked in physical space with missiles, we wouldn’t say, ‘You have to have your own missile defense system.’ In this space we have to figure out how that government-industry partnership will work.”

Alexander said the nation has to handle issues that have arisen because of the media leaks before it tackles cyber legislation.

“I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks,” he said. “I’m an optimist -- I think if we make the right steps on media-leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier.”