Military News

Monday, September 18, 2017

Air Force Secretary Outlines Forward-Looking Changes, Priorities



By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2017 — Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson spoke today at the Annual Air and Space Conference here, detailing changes designed to drive the Air Force forward and priorities that include restoring readiness and cost-effectively modernizing the force.
U.S. Fifth-Generation Fighters, Strategic Bombers Conduct Show of Force with Allies in Response to North Korea Missile Launch A B-1B Lancer prepares for takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, Aug. 31, 2017. The B-1Bs along with U.S. Marine Corp’s F-35Bs, made contact with two Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-15J fighters over waters near Kyushu, and were joined by four South Korean F-15 fighters over the Korean Peninsula. This mission is in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate range ballistic missile launch and emphasizes the combined ironclad commitment to regional allies and partners.

At the conference, sponsored by the Air Force Association, Wilson outlined the state of the force.

“Now that I've been here in this seat for four months … there are some things we've done to drive forward the U.S. Air Force,” Wilson said.

The Air Force has put forward a budget that begins to restore the force’s readiness so it can win any fight, any time, she added.

“We're moving forward with the modernization of our strategic nuclear deterrent with the KC-46 [Pegasus] tanker, the B-21 [Raider] bomber [and] the F-35 [Lightning II] fighter so that we can increase the lethality of the force, and we’ve established a new deputy chief of staff for space,” Wilson said.

"We have a live-fly experiment with four light-attack aircraft ... and we've started to simplify Air Force instructions and policies so that we stop telling airmen how to do everything," she said to a burst of applause, " ... and tell them what to do and let them surprise us with their ingenuity."

The Air Force also recently hosted a workforce summit to chart a course for developing exceptional leaders who will lead the world's most powerful teams, Wilson said, and it has raised incentive pay for officers and enlisted aircrew and expanded the aviation bonus program.

“We're off to a good start but there's much more to do,” the former Air Force pilot added.

Air Force Priorities

The Air Force has established priorities driven by the needs of the nation, she said, among them restoring readiness to win any fight, any time.

“Readiness is first and foremost about people,” Wilson added. “We've got to be bigger in order to meet the demands of the missions we've been given. The chief and I will work on steadily increasing our end strength in order to defend the nation.”

Readiness is also about training, she said.

Air crews must get the time they need for training in contested environments and for the high-end fights and nuclear deterrence missions the force will be testing them on, Wilson said.

Training and exercises must continue to challenge Air Force men and women across the range of operations, she said, “which means we have to get larger in order for them to be ready for that fight.”

And readiness includes restocking the decreasing supply of munitions, she added.

“While the precision of our weapons is unparalleled, we are using critical munitions faster than we are producing them,” Wilson said, “ … The Air Force has expended more than 54,000 precision munitions against [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] since 2014.”

Precision weapons have changed the way the U.S. military fights, she said, and these weapons and “exquisite intelligence allow us to destroy our enemies while minimizing casualties. We will continue to work closely with our industry partners to manage production.”

Effective Modernization

Wilson said another priority for the Air Force is to modernize -- cost-effectively -- to increase the lethality of the force.

“The average age of our aircraft is 28 years old. We have to be able to evolve faster, to respond faster than our potential adversaries. We’ve got a bow wave of modernization coming across the board for the Air Force over the next 10 years -- it's bombers, it's fighters, it's tankers, it's satellites, it's helicopters and it's our nuclear deterrent,” she said.

Such modernization must start with getting acquisition right -- being a good buyer for what warfighters need, she added.

“The first squadron of fully capable F-35s is activating this month at Hill Air Force Base [in Utah]. … That squadron has the full range of weapons and sensors and is ready to go when the nation calls,” Wilson said.

Next year, she added, the Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire will be the first unit to get the new KC-46 tanker.

“The long-range B-21 bomber is another step forward ... it supports the nuclear triad, it's designed to penetrate enemy air defenses in a high-end fight and it has an open architecture go support new technologies long term. It has completed its preliminary design review and is developing on track,” she said.

Space Operations

Wilson also is focused on space. The Air Force has been the lead service for space since 1954, she said.

“As the principal Defense Department advisor with respect to space,” Wilson added, “I will continue to advocate for space capability for all of our services and in particular the Air Force.”

This year the Air Force established a new three-star deputy chief of staff for space operations, she said, who will “bring a voice to the space warfighter in every conversation in headquarters Air Force.”

She added, “The chief and I expect this position to quickly identify requirements, to streamline operations and to meet the demands of space as a war-fighting domain.”

Spacefaring nations like the United States must seek to ensure that space capabilities are protected, Wilson said.

“The 2018 president's budget proposes a 20 percent increase to Air Force space systems,” she said. “We will continue to accelerate space capabilities so that America will continue to own the high ground.”

Science & Technology Strategy

From time to time it is important to refresh the service’s science and technology strategy, the secretary said, to project ahead 10 or 20 years into the future to see what kind of Air Force might exist at that time.

“Today I am announcing a 12-month effort to conduct a broad review and revision of our science and technology strategy,” Wilson said.

The Air Force Research Laboratory will lead this effort with input from the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

“We will listen broadly and engage those who are on the cutting edge of science so that we can focus our research efforts on the pathways that are vital to our future as a service,” Wilson said.

Secretary Mattis Issues Interim Guidance on Transgender Personnel Service



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has issued interim guidance on military service by transgender individuals based on direction received from a presidential memorandum, Defense Department officials said today.

The guidance takes effect immediately, Mattis directed.

In a memorandum to the services and DoD components, the secretary said the interim guidance will be in place until no later than Feb. 21, 2018, when he presents the president with a plan to put in place the policy and directives of his memorandum.

Policy, Standards, Procedures

“Consistent with military effectiveness and lethality, budgetary constraints and applicable law, the implementation plan will establish the policy, standards and procedures for transgender individuals serving in the military,” Mattis wrote in his memorandum.

And supported by a panel of experts, the deputy defense secretary and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will propose recommendations supported by “appropriate evidence and information,” for the secretary’s consideration, he said in his memo.

 “To comply with the presidential memorandum, ensure the continued combat readiness of the force and [to] maximize flexibility in the development of the implementation plan, the … interim guidance … will remain in effect until I promulgate DoD’s final policy in this matter,” the secretary said in the memo.

The Coast Guard is included in the guidance, according to an agreement with the acting secretary of Homeland Security.

The interim guidance on accessions, medical care and treatment, in-service transition for transgender service members and retention of transgender service members are outlined in the interim guidance.

Basics of Interim Guidance

“First and foremost, we will continue to treat every service member with dignity and respect,” the guidance says.

-- Accessions: The procedures dated April 28, 2010, which generally prohibit the accession of transgender individuals into the military services remain in effect, because existing or history of gender dysphoria -- a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life -- or gender transition does not meet medical standards subject to the normal waiver process.

-- Medical care and treatment: Service members who receive a gender dysphoria diagnosis from a military medical provider will be given treatment for the diagnosed medical condition. As directed by the memorandum, no new sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel will be permitted after March 22, 2018, except as necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her gender.

-- In-service transition for transgender service members: The policies and procedures in DoDI I300.28 dated July 1, 2016, remain in effect until the defense secretary puts into effect DoD’s final guidance.

-- Separation and retention of transgender service members: Service members who have completed their gender transition process, and whose gender marker has been changed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System will continue to serve in their preferred gender while the interim guidance is in effect.

An otherwise qualified transgender service member whose term of service expires while the interim guidance is in place may, at his or her request, be reenlisted in service under existing procedures.

As directed by the memorandum, no action may be taken to involuntarily separate or discharge an otherwise qualified service member solely on the basis of a gender dysphoria diagnosis or transgender status. Transgender service members are subject to the same standards as any other service member of the same gender: They may be separated or discharged under existing bases and processes, but not on the basis of a gender dysphoria diagnosis or transgender status.

Remarks at Bilateral Meeting with Portuguese Defense Minister Azeredo Lopes



Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, The Pentagon, Washington, DC,

Welcome Mr. Minister, Ambassador Fezas Vital – Your Excellency, Ambassador Glass – it’s good to have our diplomats alongside us for meetings like this. Military officers, members of the delegation, welcome. Minister, it is a pleasure to see you again after meeting for the first time during the NATO Defense Ministerial in May.

You and I inherit a very strong and positive relationship between our two countries. Portugal and the U.S. have enjoyed a long history of cooperation and friendship since as far back as 1790, when the U.S. sent its second-ever consular officer to Portugal. And Portugal was one of the first countries to recognize American independence in 1791.

Our countries have been bound together through NATO since the alliance’s founding in 1949. We have stood together for 69 years. What does this mean to us? It means that we stand alongside each other against those who would do us harm, aware that we are strongest inside an alliance.

The Pentagon’s remembrance of 9-11 yesterday alongside last month’s loss of 15 innocent lives to terrorism in Spain remind us that we’ve got to stay together. They also remind us of the need to increase our commitment to the common defense of our democracies. The security situation is changing, and we must change with it.

We need to look at NATO’s southern and eastern flanks and have a shared appreciation of that situation, both in NATO talks in Brussels and beyond.

Today, I look forward to a healthy discussion about further strengthening our relationship. I don’t believe relationships stay the same. I also look forward to making progress on the two percent Wales pledge and, within the NATO alliance, continuing to carry out our responsibilities to pass freedom and democracy to the younger people growing up, so they can have what we have.

Minister, Your Excellency, members of the delegation, thank you for coming and making the long trip here. It is a pleasure to have you at the Pentagon. You, your officers, and your ideas are always welcome here.