Military News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Air Force Identifies Platform for Next Air Force One



Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 – Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, in coordination with Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has determined the Boeing 747-8 will serve as the next presidential aircraft, commonly known as Air Force One, Air Force officials announced today.

“The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United States,” James said. “The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States (that), when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest.”

Meeting a Presidential Mission

Analyses of the capability requirements conclude a four-engine, wide-body aircraft is required to meet the needs of the Air Force One mission. Market research determined there are two four-engine platforms that could meet the requirements; the 747-8 manufactured by Boeing in the state of Washington, and the A380 manufactured by Airbus in Toulouse, France.

The decision, made official through a Determinations and Findings document, authorizes the commercial aircraft purchase by other than full and open competition. This decision, in conjunction with the notification of the Air Force’s intent to award a sole-source contract to Boeing for the modification of the 747-8, allows discussions with Boeing that will likely lead to a contract for the aircraft platform as well as the modifications necessary to missionize the aircraft.

Acquisition Strategy, Risk Reduction Work Remains

“This decision is not a contract award to procure 747-8 aircraft,” said Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager. “We still need to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk-reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define the capabilities and cost.”

The Air Force wants to own enough of the technical baseline to permit competition for sustainment throughout the aircraft’s planned 30-year life cycle, officials said. Competition can keep costs down, spur innovation and provide options.

“We are committed to incorporating competition for sub-systems of the missionized aircraft as much as practicable, and will participate substantively in any competitions led by the prime contractor,” James said.

“The current fleet of VC-25 presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, a testament to the airmen who support, maintain and fly the aircraft,” James said. “Yet, it is time to upgrade. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded.

“The Air Force provides the president with safe and reliable air transportation with high levels of security and communication capability as the alternate airborne White House,” she added. “This platform will meet the requirements necessary to provide that level of service for future presidents.”

The secretary made clear affordability will be a key element of the PAR program.

“The program will use multiple strategies, such as the use of proven technologies and commercially certified equipment, to ensure the program is as affordable as possible while still meeting mission requirements,” James said. “We will insist upon program affordability through cost conscious procurement practices.”

Sequestration Casts Shadow on Shrinking, Aging Air Force Fleet



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 – Today’s Air Force is not only smaller, but its diminutive fleet is older than it has ever been, the service’s chief of staff said today in remarks at the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III reported to Congress that the challenge to modernize won’t be easy, and will require accepting prudent operational risk in some mission areas for a period of time.

“If World War II’s venerable B-17 Bomber had flown in the first Gulf War, it would’ve been younger than the B-52, the K-135 and the U-2 are today,” Welsh recounted. “We must modernize our Air Force.”

At Budget Control Act funding levels, the Air Force will no longer be able to meet the operational requirements of the Defense Strategic Guidance, nor will it be able to defeat an adversary while denying a second adversary or defending the homeland, the general maintained.

Shrinking Fleet, Personnel

When the Air Force deployed to Operation Desert Storm in 1990, the service had 188 fighter squadrons, Welsh said. Today, 54 remain and that number could drop to 49 in the next couple of years, he said.

In 1990, there were 511,000 active duty airmen, he added; today, there are some 200,000 fewer than that.

“As those numbers came down, the operational tempo went up; your Air Force is fully engaged,” Welsh said. “All the excess capacity is gone and now more than ever, we need a capable, fully ready force.”

But the Air Force, Welsh noted, cannot continue to cut force structure as it has in recent years to cover readiness and modernization costs or it will risk being too small to succeed in current tasks.

As such, BCA-level funding, Welsh said, will force the service to considering divestiture of fleets such as the KC-10, U2, Global Hawk Block 40 and portions of the airborne command and control fleet.

“We’d also have to consider reducing our MQ-1 and MQ-9 fleet by up to 10 orbits,” Welsh said. “The real-world impact of those choices on current U.S. military operations would be significant.”

In areas such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance alone, 50 percent of the current high-altitude missions would no longer be available and commanders would lose 30 percent of their ability to collect targeting data against moving vehicles on the battlefield, Welsh warned.

The Air Force, he added, would also lose a medium-altitude ISR force critical to operations in Iraq and Syria.

According to Welsh, in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, the Air Force used the short-term funding relief of the Balanced Budget Act to target individual and unit readiness.

Readiness at Risk

“The readiness of our combat squadrons has improved over the past year,” the general said. “Today, just under 50 percent of those units are fully combat ready.”

But sequestration, the general underscored, would instantly reverse that trend.

“Just like in FY13, squadrons would be grounded, readiness rates would plummet, Red and Green Flag training exercises would have to be canceled, and our air crew members’ and their families’ frustrations will rise again,” Welsh said.

Also in the crosshairs are long-term elements such as training and test ranges, space launch, simulation and nuclear infrastructures, which he said have been intentionally underfunded in recent years to divert dollars to individual and unit readiness.

“That bill is now due, but BCA caps will make it impossible to pay,” the general said.

Chief Cody talks innovation with Barksdale Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


1/27/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody spoke with Barksdale's Airmen and leadership during an Airmen's Call and base visit here, Jan. 22-23.

Cody, accompanied by his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, toured the base and talked to Airmen, discussing his priorities and his role as the Air Force's senior enlisted leader.

"While we may concentrate on different things at different times, my priorities always remain the same: our Airmen and our Air Force," Cody said. "How are we taking care of our Airmen, their development... certainly their quality of life, and how all these things factor into our force going into the future. Those priorities influence all of my decisions.

"I represent all the Airmen in our Air Force," Cody explained. "My role is to represent them and to be able to articulate how we are utilizing them to our leadership and discuss whether that is effective, and make sure we're doing right by them. And by the same token, it's important that our Airmen understand that we owe them a conversation. We need to talk with them and talk with their families about why we're doing what we're doing and bridge those communication gaps."

Cody also spoke on the importance of mentorship.

"How we reach our full potential is largely about who we surround ourselves with and how open we are to listening to what people say, how open we are to learning every day," Cody said. "One of the most important resources you can have is a mentor. They're those people who have been there and done that, who can share their experiences and pass down their knowledge to the next generation of Airmen and set them up for success."

Cody met with small groups of Airmen, offering advice on leadership gleaned from his 30-year Air Force career.

"I always tell people aspiring to be leaders, if you're not motivating and inspiring other people every day, you should be asking yourself 'why not?' You should be doing things on any given day that a younger Airman or peer would value and trust you enough to come to you and ask for help or advice," he said.

During his visit, Cody addressed some junior enlisted Airmen's concerns regarding their perceived inability to make significant contributions to the Air Force due to their position.

"I think some Airmen truly feel that way," Cody said. "But we are always listening and open to ideas. We have our Airmen Powered by Innovation program; we're taking ideas from Airmen all the time and I can give you a dozen examples of how we're
taking very junior Airmen's ideas and implementing them across the entire Air Force.

"Our Airmen are extremely innovative," Cody continued. "We wouldn't be the Air Force we are today without some of our most innovative ideas coming from our most junior Airmen."

Cody described his visit to Barksdale as a way to connect with Airmen on a more personal level.

"If I could say one thing to the men and women of Barksdale, it would be thank you," Cody said. "That's really why we're here. It's to hear what's on their minds but really it's an opportunity for us to say thanks personally rather than sending it in an email or putting it on a roll call. It's the opportunity to have face-to-face contact with our Airmen to let them know how much we value and appreciate what they and their families do and to tell them how important they are to our Air Force."

The real role of Family Advocacy

by Airman 1st Class Sean D. Smith
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


1/28/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Some Minot Air Force Base helping agencies go overlooked and underutilized, but the Family Advocacy Program is running into a different obstacle: people know about them, but not everyone has a perfect grasp of what FAP is really here to do.

"Some people see the Family Advocacy Program as an organization whose sole purpose is to take away their kids," said Laurel Grams, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager. "The mission of the FAP is to build healthy communities through programs designed for the prevention and treatment of child and partner abuse."

The last thing FAP wants to do is take someone's kids - in fact, they can't. The FAP can report a problem and work closely with local Child Protective Services. If it's determined the children should be removed from the home, CPS have to be the ones to act on it.

"A lot of people don't realize that," Grams said. "They think if there's an issue we can just walk in and have the children removed. We can't."

The FAP offers a wide variety of courses and services aimed at preventing domestic incidents and strengthening relationships, like classes for anger management and "Parenting with Love & Logic." The idea is to teach people to cope with stressors and manage the challenges of military relationships effectively.

"The problem is perception. Some people think that if you're at the FAP for any reason, even for a class, something must have happened," Grams said. "And that stigmatization may be keeping some individuals from getting the preventative help they need to avoid something from actually happening."

Some members fear being associated with the FAP could be detrimental to their career, when the opposite is true.

"They think a visit to Family Advocacy looks bad for them, but a member who has the presence of mind to sense a problem, and the courage to get the help they need before things go wrong isn't going to damage their career," Grams said. "If anything, taking that action, seeking out assistance and guidance, showcases those positive qualities to their leadership."

Something bad doesn't have to have happened for the FAP to be able to help. People are welcome to come in, any time, to seek out information or assistance on classes or resources.

"You may be referred to an anger class, a sleep class, or a parenting class. Sometimes for the individual, it might be determined what they need is a counselor just for them. Maybe they've got stress or anxiety," Grams said. "We want to help people get what they need before things get serious and incidents happen."

The FAP is not simply the place people get sent after something bad happens at home. Family Advocacy consistently offers educational opportunities and new initiatives on a regular basis that cover everything from helping Airmen recognize and address burnout to planning their finances after a breakup.

"We're not here to end careers," Grams said. "We want to provide services, support and programs to prevent domestic violence and help re-build families so members can carry on with their careers."

Paving the Way

by Staff Sgt. E'Lysia A. Wray
49 WG/PA


1/28/2015 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- People often think of diversity in the workplace as being defined as the hiring of different races and cultures. The Air Force envisions diversity to be more in-depth.

According to the Air Force Instruction 36-7001, the Air Force broadly defines diversity as a composite of individual characteristics, experiences and abilities consistent with the Air Force Core Values and the Air Force Mission.

Through this definition, the Air Force Diversity Operations Division develops annual outreach programs that focus on all facets of diversity with specific emphasis on strategic capabilities such as language skills, cross-cultural competencies, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) competencies.

By using organizations that promote STEM capabilities, the Air Force is able to reach a much larger audience ranging from children in Kindergarten all the way through High School.

FIRST is a non-profit organization set on helping young people discover and develop a passion for STEM by hosting annual competitions on innovative projects and robotics based on real world issues, while teaching them valuable employment and life skills.

"What these competitions show are a lot of kids who love being involved with science, math and robotics," said Capt. Matthew Satchell, 846th Test Group aerospace engineer. "What this program does is set them up for success with pipelines all the way through high school, and if they stay with it, it can pay for their college and get them a job. Companies look specifically for people who have these kinds of experiences, because it teaches them how to be professional in a scientific environment."

FIRST competitions are broken down into age groups, Jr. FIRST Lego League, FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. Each league is set up to allow children to learn, apply, and elevate STEM concepts at an appropriate level.

"They want to design rockets, to go compete at a National and International level, and get their college paid for, we just need to help them," said Satchell.

In each league competition, the children are graded and evaluated on their presentations, building of a robot, the capabilities of the robot, and the league's core values. These values include teamwork, learning together, honor the spirit of friendly competition, learning is more important than winning, sharing experiences, and most of all having fun.

"If the goal of diversity is a wide experience that will help us solve our most pressing problems, Lego League is the perfect tool to help us build that capability in our youngest leaders," said Ted Brinegar, 49th Wing community support coordinator. "Where else do children 6-18 years old work on solutions to cover everything from natural disasters to education enhancement?"

According to a Brandeis University study, STEM program participants are significantly more likely to attend college, twice as likely to go on to major in science or engineering, and three times as likely to major specifically in engineering. Once they enter college they are 10 times more likely to have an internship with a company, four times more likely to expect to pursue a career in science and engineering. Young women are four times more likely to go on to studies in science and engineering, and minority members of FIRST teams are more than twice as likely to enter these fields.

"By supporting Lego League (Holloman) has a great opportunity to highlight STEM uses in the Air Force. It gets kids hooked on science and that the Air Force is a great place to pursue STEM possibilities. From the Test Track to the Solar Observatory, from the primate facility to the Remotely Piloted Aircraft's, Holloman is packed with opportunities to highlight our current capability and a glimpse into the science of the future," said Brinegar.

"This program changes kids lives!," exclaimed Satchell.

Odierno: Sequestration Threatens Army Readiness



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 – With sequestration looming in the 2016 budget, the Army chief of staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that the national security environment is the most uncertain he’s seen in his nearly 40 years of service.

Gen. Ray Odierno reported that instability continues to increase globally, especially in light of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, whose unforeseen expansion and erosion of order there and in Syria have significantly heightened conflict in the region and beyond.

During the past three years “we have already significantly reduced the capabilities of the United States Army, and this is before sequestration begins again in 2016,” Odierno told the Senate panel.

“In the last 3 years,” the general said, “the Army’s active component end strength has been reduced by 80,000; the reserve component by 18,000.”

Sequestration’s possible return also portends additional cuts of 70,000 active-duty troops, an additional 35,000 from the National Guard, and another 10,000 from the Army Reserve by fiscal year 2020, Odierno added.

Odierno explained sequestration’s impact from a strategic perspective.

“It will challenge us to meet even our current level of commitments to our allies and partners around the world [and] will eliminate our capability, on any scale, to conduct simultaneous operations, specifically deterring in one region while defeating [an opposing force] in another,” he said. “Essentially, for ground forces, sequestration even puts into question our ability to conduct even one prolonged, multiphase, combined arms campaign against a determined enemy.”

Challenges in Europe, the Pacific

U.S. Army readiness also remains a challenge in Europe, Odierno said, adding that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine challenges the resolve of the European Union and NATO’s effectiveness.

And, he said, China’s military modernization efforts in the Pacific raise concerns regarding U.S. forces, allies and regional interests while the cycle of North Korean provocation continues to increase.

With 13 fewer active component brigade combat teams and the elimination of three active aviation brigades and about 800 rotary wing aircraft from the Army inventory, readiness has dipped to its lowest levels in 20 years, according to Odierno.

“In FY13, under sequestration, only 10 percent of our brigade combat teams were ready,” the general said. “Combat training center rotations for seven brigade combat teams were cancelled and over half a billion dollars of maintenance was deferred, both affecting training and readiness of our units.”

Modernization Strains

The general also reported a 25-percent paring in Army modernization investments.

“We have eliminated our much needed infantry fighting vehicle modernization program [and] our scout helicopter development program,” the general said. “We have significantly delayed other upgrades for many of our systems and aging platforms.”

Ultimately, sequestration limits strategic flexibility and requires the Army to hope to accurately predict the future, something Odierno said the service has not been able to do.

“Today, our soldiers are supporting five named operations on six continents, with nearly 140,000 soldiers committed, deployed, or forward-stationed in over 140 countries,” Odierno said. “They remain professional and dedicated -- to the mission, to the Army, and to the nation -- with the very foundation of our soldiers and our profession being built on trust.”