Air Force World

June 1, 2005

Bush Picks Pace For Chairman

President Bush on April 22 nominated Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pace, currently the vice chairman, would succeed Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who is expected to retire this fall after four years as the President’s top military advisor.

If confirmed by the Senate, Pace would become the first Marine Corps officer to serve as JCS chairman. He is already the first vice chairman to come from the Marine Corps.

Pace began his career as a platoon leader during the Vietnam War and commanded US Southern Command before joining the Joint Staff.

At a White House ceremony, Bush also nominated Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. to replace Pace as vice chairman. Giambastiani is currently serving as head of US Joint Forces Command, where he has played a leading role promoting DOD’s transformation efforts.

Senate Confirms Hayden for Intel

The Senate in April confirmed Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden as principal deputy director of national intelligence. Hayden will support the newly created post of national intelligence director.

Hayden has spent much of his career as an intelligence officer, most recently serving six years as director of the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, Md. Hayden’s previous assignments included stints as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and director of intelligence for US European Command.

Hayden will help intelligence director John D. Negroponte oversee and coordinate the nation’s Intelligence Community, including the Defense Department’s numerous intel shops, as was suggested by the 9/11 Commission.

USAF Should Meet Force Goal

The Air Force is on track to meet its Congressionally mandated end strength by the end of the year, the service’s top uniformed personnel official recently told lawmakers. USAF will “continue to bring balance to the force through right-sizing and shaping specific career specialties,” Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, deputy chief of staff for personnel, told the House Armed Services Committee.

According to an Air Force spokeswoman, the service needs to shed roughly 3,000 uniformed personnel by the end of 2005 to meet its end strength target of 359,700 airmen.

The Air Force is using “all tools available to help bring down the numbers,” officials wrote in an April news release.

These tools include the Palace Chase program, which allows airmen to separate early if they agree to join the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve Command, and the “Blue to Green” program, which allows separating airmen to retrain and transition to the Army without losing rank.

Controls Caused F/A-22 Mishap

The Air Force has determined that a “deficiency” in the F/A-22’s flight-control system (FLCS) resulted in last September’s mishap in which a Raptor exceeded its G limits, causing $3.6 million in damage to the aircraft.

“The primary cause of this accident, supported by clear and convincing evidence, was a deficiency in the mishap aircraft’s FLCS,” stated the official accident investigation report.

The mishap occurred during a Sept. 28, 2004, test flight described as a “high-risk test mission” designed to stress the aircraft. During the sortie, the Raptor encountered the jet wash of its accompanying F-16, and the F/A-22’s nose began to pitch up and down. After three seconds of increasing pitches, the flight-control system engaged, disregarded the pilot’s inputs, and brought the aircraft back to level flight in approximately eight additional seconds.

“During these events, the [mishap aircraft] exceeded both positive and negative G limits for the structure,” the investigation found. A news release noted that this test aircraft’s G limit was 7.33, but it was strained by forces as much as 11.7 Gs.

There were no injuries in the mishap, and the F/A-22 safely returned to its base at Edwards AFB, Calif., after the event.

An Air Force spokeswoman said in a statement that the flight-control problem “has been identified and those jets in production will have the fix; those on the ramp either are or will be fixed.”

Air, Space Warfare Centers To Merge

The Air Force announced April 26 it will merge its Space Warfare Center at Schriever AFB, Colo., with the Air Warfare Center at Nellis AFB, Nev. The new center will be located at Nellis and will be renamed the Air Force Warfare Center.

Air Force Space Command controls the SWC, while Air Combat Command runs the AWC. The new warfare center will be assigned to ACC, officials wrote in a release.

The consolidation makes sense, said Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Goldfein, Air Warfare Center commander. Integrating air and space operations can “create synergy,” he told Air Force Magazine.

The single center will eliminate an artificial distinction between airpower and space power that Goldfein deemed “not helpful.” The addition of space capabilities and personnel into USAF’s combined air operations centers has shown what the benefits can be, he said.

Gen. Lance W. Lord, AFSPC commander, agrees. In the release, Lord said the move will “create a warfighting synergy that increases combat effectiveness and peacetime efficiencies.”

The Air Force is additionally “looking at what information warfare capabilities might also fit into the integration,” officials wrote. The goal is to complete the merger by Oct. 1.

New AMC Wings Take Off

About a month after its formal stand up, one of Air Mobility Command’s two new contingency response wings sent a team to Afghanistan to establish a new bare base airfield for Italian troops at Herat. The 47-member team, primarily from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, McGuire AFB, N.J., was expected to complete the operation in less than 45 days.

The McGuire unit was the first of two CRWs created by AMC to provide USAF with rapid air base set-up units, primarily comprising aerial port, command and control, maintenance, and security force personnel. (See “Aerospace World: News Notes,” May, p. 26.)

AMC on April 11 formally activated the second unit—the 615th CRW—at Travis AFB, Calif.

Creation of these wings “clearly signals our resolve to posture our mobility forces for rapid base-opening operations anywhere in the world,” said Lt. Gen. William Welser III, commander of AMC’s 18th Air .

Depending on the mission, these wings also can deploy intelligence, special investigations, medical, finance, weather, and contracting personnel, according to USAF officials. For instance, to fill out the contingency response element working on the Herat base, the 621st CRW drew a finance NCO from Travis and a four-person medical team from MacDill AFB, Fla.

Nuke Arsenal Needs Modernization

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has asked the Defense Science Board to study the US strategic nuclear arsenal and evaluate progress toward the goals of the Nuclear Posture Review.

US nuclear qualities “continue to be largely an extension of the Cold War capabilities,” states a memo, obtained by, that established a DSB task force on nuclear capabilities. The task force chairmen are retired Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch and John Foster, former Los Alamos National Laboratory director.

Welch said there are a number of problems with maintaining just the existing stockpile. During the Cold War “yield to weight was the goal,” Welch said in an April speech sponsored by the National Defense University Foundation. Ten warheads needed to fit aboard an ICBM, and 14 warheads on an SLBM.

This resulted in “exquisite designs” with “all kinds of esoteric, hard to handle materials in them,” he noted.

Today, Welch said, technology exists to replicate the capabilities of the existing nuclear arsenal with safer, more reliable designs—if the nation chooses to do so.

The US can begin to evolve “to a stockpile of weapons that are robust, that have high margins, that have intrinsic safety and security at much higher levels,” said the former USAF Chief of Staff and commander of Strategic Air Command. “Not only can we do that, we must do that,” said Welch. There is no infrastructure for maintaining weapons long-term.

To avoid unpleasant surprises with the health of the existing stockpile, the US should begin work on new designs as soon as possible. Waiting 15 years is “pretty risky,” he said.

“Current plans do not lead to qualitative changes in the sustainability of a reliable, safe, and secure weapons stockpile,” reads the OSD memo. “Instead, the plan is to extend the life of Cold War weapons that were introduced during or before the 1980s.”

The DSB was instructed to assess the current nuclear sustainment plan and to evaluate progress towards the goal of creating a new triad of strike capabilities featuring nuclear, advanced conventional, and non-kinetic systems. In regards to strategic strike, Welch noted that “the only thing that exists today with any capability is the nuclear triad.”

The DSB was further tasked to examine ways to modernize the stockpile with “weapons that are simpler to manufacture” and which can be sustained with a less complex nuclear support infrastructure.

USAF Integrating Sensor Efforts

The Air Force wants to synchronize its battlespace awareness efforts, creating around-the-clock situational awareness through a variety of linked sensor platforms. Currently, USAF’s various sensor platforms are not well-integrated, said Gen. Gregory S. Martin, head of Air Force Materiel Command.

There is potential to create “the effect of one system staring 24/7” if near-space capabilities are properly added to the mix, Martin told the Defense Writers Group in April. Air-breathing systems, such as the U-2 and Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft, offer high resolution, but may be denied access. Space systems guarantee access, but are expensive and provide intelligence that is less detailed. Near-space systems will combine the benefits of both air and space systems, but are still not operational.

The Air Force must move now to ensure “tribal” tendencies are overcome, Martin said. Officials need to “work much harder on developing systems that are working on the same technical architecture.”

Various air, space, and near-space systems must use the same “communications and data link spectrum so that they can not only share information” but actively communicate with one another, he said, and added, “That is not the case today.”

To fix that, Martin said AFMC’s Electronic Systems Center and Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center have reached an agreement. ESC will be the “lead dog working on a national space situational awareness,” while SMC develops the near-space systems themselves.

ESC and SMC will ensure that the battlespace awareness assets “exist in a synergistic relationship,” as a new generation of sensors and communications platforms are developed, said Martin.

Bonuses To Decline

Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, deputy chief of staff for personnel, recently told House lawmakers that the Air Force is cutting the number of career fields eligible for re-enlistment bonuses.

The service needs to make certain that bonuses do not “become an entitlements program,” Brady said. If airmen have come to think of re-enlistment bonuses as an entitlement, he said, “they have been steadily disabused of that notion recently.”

Over the past two years, the number of career fields eligible for bonuses has been slashed from 44 to 12. Meanwhile, the number of Air Force specialty codes receiving selective re-enlistment bonuses has been cut from 62 to 32. These moves have saved taxpayers $132 million, Brady said.

The Air Force still has shortages in some critical career fields, so to remain competitive with lucrative private sector jobs, Brady said, the Air Force needs “flexibility to respond rapidly so that we don’t pay bonuses we don’t need, and we do pay those we do need.”

USAF To Build IA Cadre

The days when the Air Force could rely on a group of self-trained individuals to serve as foreign area officers, providing cultural and linguistic skills for expeditionary operations, are over, according to Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff. The service now plans to “deliberately develop” a cadre of airmen with “international insight, foreign language proficiency, and cultural understanding,” he said in a widely distributed policy memo.

These new experts will become a cadre of international affairs specialists (IASs).

The Air Force plans to identify midcareer line officers “with potential to excel as IASs,” said Jumper.

The new specialists will go into one of two tracks. Regional affairs strategists will spend three years earning a graduate degree with language training, then alternate between their primary Air Force specialty code and regional affairs assignments.

Political-military affairs strategists will spend a year earning an international affairs degree. They will develop broader skills and go into career broadening assignments. This should develop officers with an “advanced awareness of the international context in which we will apply air and space power,” Jumper wrote.

Officials said in a release that the first IAS selections will be made by this summer, and those officers—about 100—will enter training in summer 2006. The next year, the service plans to select around 150 for training and 210 each year thereafter until it builds a force of 2,500 to 3,000 specialists.

“The goal is clear,” said Jumper—develop professional airmen with international insight, as “a crucial force multiplier.”

Old Fighters Are Problematic

Among the fighters facing aging aircraft problems, the Air Force’s fleet of F-15 Eagles “is in probably the most serious trouble,” said Gen. Gregory S. Martin, chief of Air Force Materiel Command. The A through D model Eagles are beginning their third round of engine overhauls—something they were never designed for—and the exterior surfaces are becoming weak, he said.

“The constant water intrusion, freezing, … contraction, and expansion have caused delaminations,” Martin told the Defense Writers Group April 13. “Those aircraft now are under airspeed restrictions, as a fleet, because they are 23 years old.”

USAF’s aging A-10s and F-16s face their own unique sets of challenges and require constant attention to stay effective.

“The A-10 has a pretty good airframe life left, but it’s underpowered and [the Air Force is] working on an engine derivative to upgrade its engine,” Martin explained. The Warthog’s precision engagement upgrade, enabling the A-10 to use advanced targeting pods and fire digital weapons, is also important, he said.

The F-16, meanwhile, was designed to never need programmed depot maintenance (PDM), Martin said. But the intense use of the aircraft has forced a series of structural upgrade programs. It has come to the point that the F-16 is “almost into a PDM-type of mode … because you’re finding, about every five years,” that a major service life extension is necessary.

Overall, Martin said, the F-16 fleet is in “pretty good shape, but we have to stay on top of it.”

USAF, ANG Sign Historic MOUs

Air Force and Air National Guard officials recently signed memoranda of understanding for two of USAF’s Future Total Force integration test cases. The Air Force plans to test six new proposals to reshape the way the service trains, equips, and employs its active and reserve forces. (See “Editorial: The Unified Air Force,” January, p. 2.)

One MOU, signed in early April, lays out the details for the ANG’s new “associate wing” at Langley AFB, Va. The Virginia Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing, Richmond Arpt., Va., will team with Langley’s 1st Fighter Wing to fly and maintain the F/A-22 Raptor, making the Guard unit a partner in the operational establishment of this new weapons system.

The second MOU, signed in late April, provides for some new active duty pilots to serve two-year tours in Vermont, where they will integrate into the community and hopefully benefit from a close relationship with the highly experienced Guardsmen of Vermont’s 158th Fighter Wing, Burlington Arpt., Vt.

Agreements on the remaining FTF proposals had not yet been signed by early May. The other cases involve active and reserve component units in Arizona, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Utah.

Vandenberg Launches Microsat

An experimental 220-pound microsatellite was launched April 11 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. It was boosted into polar orbit aboard a Minotaur I, which pairs components of decommissioned Minuteman II ICBMs with the commercial Pegasus rocket.

The self-maneuvering Experimental Satellite System 11 (XSS-11) spacecraft is an Air Force Research Laboratory project.

“Both the launch vehicle and the spacecraft represent state-of-the-art responsive space systems,” said Lt. Col. Gary Henry, commander of the 1st Air and Space Test Squadron at Vandenberg.

The Air Force has high hopes for microsats. “XSS-11 is only a harbinger of even greater things to come with very small, highly capable spacecraft,” Henry said.

The XSS-11 is designed to rendezvous with a resident space object, which it will then circumnavigate and inspect in a series of “extended proximity operations,” stated a USAF news release. The microsat also is to demonstrate technologies NASA may use to collect samples of rocks and soil from Mars and return them to Earth.

C-17s Make Polar Drop

The C-17 on April 12 was used for a polar airdrop for the first time. The mission from McChord AFB, Wash., “air-dropped life-sustaining cargo to National Science Foundation scientists at the North Pole,” an Air Force news release stated. The last polar airdrop was flown in 2001 by a C-141.

For the mission, a pair of C-17s flew a nonstop 12-hour mission to deliver roughly 10,000 gallons of fuel to the scientists. Pilots visually identified the drop zone, and loadmasters jettisoned the pallets from an altitude of 1,000 feet.

Polar missions can be unpredictable. Flying to “extreme latitudes” and near magnetic north can wreak havoc on an aircraft’s instruments. Three months of planning went into this mission, said Maj. Travis England, mission director, so that crews could prepare for abnormalities. “As the aircraft flies near magnetic north, the compass needle may actually point in the wrong direction, leading [aircraft] off the proper flight path,” the release explained.

BRAC Cuts Less Than 20 Percent

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recently said that this year’s Base Realignment and Closure actions will probably result in less than 20 percent of DOD’s basing capacity being shuttered. Defense officials announced their proposed BRAC actions May 13. The details will be covered in Air Force Magazine’s July issue.

DOD basing studies from the 1990s estimated that the department had 20 to 25 percent excess capacity. It now appears the oft-cited estimate that BRAC 2005 would reduce the domestic basing infrastructure by 25 percent was probably overzealous.

“It looks now like the actual [reduction] will be less than the lower end of that range,” Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing before the list was released. “How much less remains to be seen.”

The Defense Secretary added that he never necessarily believed the 2005 round would reach the 20- to 25-percent figure.

“The fact that we’re bringing so many forces home from overseas” reduces the amount of infrastructure in the United States that will be deemed excess, Rumsfeld said.

The BRAC commission will review the list before sending a final list of closure and realignment recommendations to the President by Sept. 8.

The President will then review those proposals, either approving or disapproving the entire list, by Sept. 23. If approved, the list goes to Congress. After 45 days, if Congress has not enacted a joint resolution of disapproval, the list becomes binding.

If the President disapproves the list, the commission must submit revised recommendations to him within a month. The President must approve the revised list or the process ends.

Focus on the Warfighter

The Air Force is in the midst of a major reorganization of command responsibilities that should, by autumn, carve a series of new warfighting headquarters out of USAF’s numbered air forces.

The new warfighting headquarters (WFHQs) will typically be led by three-star generals and will support a specific unified command. The goal is to create an off-the-shelf structure ready to go to war on a moment’s notice.

One of the lessons from previous air wars was that USAF tended to supply command and control (C2) functions to commanders on an ad hoc basis. The C2 architectures “tended to be developed from scratch each time,” said Brig. Gen. Eric J. Rosborg, who is leading the WFHQ effort for the Air Staff.

Standardization was needed, Rosborg told Air Force Magazine. Officials have hinted at these moves for months, and the implementation plan should be complete by Oct. 1, he said.

Gen. John P. Jumper, USAF Chief of Staff, wants wartime commanders focused on war planning, mission support, and beddown preparations, Rosborg explained. Jumper does not want them dealing with base golf courses, child care centers, and housing. Responsibility for administrative functions will therefore be shifted to the Air Force major command staffs.

By early May, the Air Force had announced only one WFHQ location. Pacific Air Forces’ 13th Air Force moved from Guam to Hawaii, where it set up shop at Hickam Air Force Base and will evolve into Air Forces Pacific, or AFPAC.

The Combined Air Operations Center at Hickam will serve as the “execution arm” of the warfighting headquarters, said Rosborg. The WFHQ staff will be organized along the lines of the Joint Staff’s command structure, to ease the integration of joint personnel if the headquarters needs to run an air war.

Notionally, the other WFHQs will be AFNEA (Northeast Asia) for US Forces Korea, AFEUR for US European Command, AFSOUTH for US Southern Command, AFTRANS for US Transportation Command, AFSTRAT for US Strategic Command, AFNORTH for US Northern Command, and AFSOF for US Special Operations Command.

The WFHQs will be standardized where possible but tailored for their individual missions. Some will center on Falconer Air Operations Centers, while AFTRANS, for example, will utilize the Tanker and Airlift Control Center.

Rosborg said the locations for the WFHQs have not been decided, and the names are subject to change. Air Force leaders are still planning the details. Still to be resolved is the future of the numbered air forces (NAFs). What becomes of 9th Air Force once AFCENT is up and running? What becomes of the NAFs that do not evolve into WFHQs? And for regions such as Europe—which has NAFs in England and Italy and a major command based in Germany—where will the warfighting headquarters be located

Exactly what responsibilities belong within the WFHQ is also being finalized, as is the size of each headquarters. Rosborg said a series of announcements likely will be made up until Oct. 1, detailing which WFHQ will stand up at what location.

Junior ROTC To Expand

The Air Force Junior ROTC program will be adding 199 detachments, at high schools nationwide, by the beginning of the 2007 school year. Officials say 48 of the new units, in 21 states, will be ready for cadets this fall.

Congress voted more than five years ago to increase the number of Air Force JROTC detachments from 609 to 945. However, USAF officials realized that the growth would not be easy, given the shortage of qualified instructors. (See “The Surge in Junior ROTC,” April 2000, p. 75.)

Today, AFJROTC has 746 detachments, and qualified instructors are in high demand, said Col. H.B. McCarraher III, AFJROTC director at Maxwell AFB, Ala. To meet the expansion goal, 398 retired officers and noncommissioned officers are needed as instructors.

“Airmen interested in becoming JROTC instructors must have retired from active duty within the last five years,” service officials said. “Airmen on active duty may apply for positions when they are within six months of their retirement date.”

AFJROTC cadets are under no obligation to join the armed forces, and officials note that the goal of the program is to foster citizenship, community service, responsibility, character, discipline—and an appreciation of air and space fundamentals.

Instructors are paid at least enough to raise their retirement pay up to their active duty pay and allowances. Service officials note that some school districts pay more.

Potential instructors can find more information online at

Sharing Exchange Operations

Despite resistance from the military services, DOD officials have told Congress the Pentagon intends to consolidate “back store” operations of the three military exchange systems to save 15 to 40 percent in operating costs.

Two years ago Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz ordered full consolidation of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service with the Navy and the Marine Corps exchange services. The department abandoned that effort in July 2004 in the face of stiff opposition from the services and Congress.

The goal now is to establish a system of “shared services” across five functional areas of exchange operations: human resources, finance and accounting, information technology, logistics, and non-resale procurement such as store equipment and fixtures.

Charles S. Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the House subcommittee on military personnel in early April that “staff resistance” blocked exchange consolidation.

He called shared services a “viable alternative” and said the changes would be transparent to customers.

But exchange officials, who testified at the same hearing, still didn’t sound excited about the move. They criticized the task force set up to execute consolidation and, in response to committee questions, grumbled that a combined $2.7 million in store profits had been spent so far in the quest to combine exchange operations.

Abell said consolidating back store operations is critical if the exchanges are to survive trends in retailing and force structure changes that will reposition tens of thousands of troops from Europe and Asia back to Stateside bases.

“Over half of all exchange profits are generated overseas,” Abell noted. “As more and more troops and family members are transitioned back to the United States, this profit profile will shift. Increased support of expeditionary forces may also reduce overseas profits,” he said.

Combining back store operations is expected to take from three to five years to complete. Critics such as Mike Henties with the American Logistics Association, which represents manufacturers of products sold in military stores, contend that a solid business case even to combine some exchange operations hasn’t been made yet.

—Tom Philpott

A Legacy of the F-15

Much of the Air Force’s future uniformed leadership was assembled 23 years ago, at Kadena AB, Japan—but nobody knew it at the time.

Gen. Gregory S. Martin, then a major, was flying F-15s at Kadena, surrounded by a remarkable number of young officers who have since become senior Air Force leaders.

“These are great officers who have a tremendous dedication, good people skills, and of course professional credentials that are superb, and the whole boat floats,” said Martin, now commander of Air Force Materiel Command.

Pilots flying F-15s from Kadena in 1982 and 1983 included:

  • Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr., Joint Staff plans and force development director.
  • Lt. Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, chief of Alaskan Command and 11th Air Force.
  • Maj. Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, nominated to be commander of 8th Air Force.
  • Maj. Gen. (sel.) Daniel J. Darnell, commander of the Space Warfare Center.
  • Maj. Gen. David A. Deptula, director of air and space operations for Pacific Air Forces.
  • Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn, president of the National Defense University.
  • Brig. Gen. Irving L. Halter Jr., Joint Staff and National Reconnaissance Office space systems coordinator.
  • Maj. Gen. William F. Hodgkins, director of plans for NORAD.
  • Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, vice commander of Air Force Space Command.
  • Gen. Gregory S. Martin.
  • Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force vice chief of staff.

This particular group of officers gathered through happenstance, said retired Gen. Richard E. Hawley, who was the Kadena wing’s vice commander at the time. There are quality officers throughout the Air Force, he said, and USAF’s assignment system is “egalitarian in the extreme.”

But it was not a complete surprise, because the F-15 was “the new darling,” Hawley said in an interview. In 1982, the F-15 was still a relatively new weapons system and the competition for a coveted spot as an Eagle pilot was intense.

The rivalry among the pilots and squadrons on Okinawa also bred quality. As evidence, Hawley pointed to the fact that Kadena’s three fighter squadrons each won the Hughes Trophy—now called the Raytheon Hughes Achievement Award—as the Air Force’s top air defense/air superiority squadron, in order, from 1981 to 1983.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said Martin. “When you’ve got guys like [these] working with or for you, you are also lifted significantly.”

He continued, “So I wouldn’t take credit for anything other than being a good wingman with this group of people who have continued to succeed in the Air Force as a result of all our relationships.”

Vets Disability Commission

The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission, controversial since it was conceived in fall 2003, held its first meeting in May. Formation of the commission was brokered by the Administration when it agreed to the House Republican plan to relax the century-old ban on concurrent receipt of military retirement and disability compensation.

Advocates for disabled veterans look upon the 13-member bipartisan panel with suspicion, viewing it as linked to the proposal in 2003 to limit the eligibility for disability pay of future veterans to those whose injuries or illnesses result from performance of duty. Current disabilities are deemed service-connected, and therefore compensable, if the injury or illness occurred while the member is on active duty.

Veterans associations were so outraged by the proposal that it was quickly withdrawn. Instead, Congress and the White House agreed to a limited lift of the ban—for those most seriously disabled only—and to create a commission, whose stated purpose is to review current disability programs and, if needed, recommend reforms.

The Senate majority and minority leaders appointed two commissioners apiece, as did the Speaker of the House and House minority leader. The President named five. The law directs that a majority of the commissioners must have earned combat decorations of Silver Star or higher. Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Terry Scott, 62, the President’s choice to chair the commission is a highly decorated infantry officer who served combat tours in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm and commanded US Army Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

The law directs Scott and fellow commissioners to provide recommendations on the “appropriateness” of current benefits and standards for determining whether a disability or death should be compensated. The commission’s final report is due to Congress and the White House by Sept. 9, 2006.

—Tom Philpott

The War on Terrorism

Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq


By May 3, a total of 1,587 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 1,583 troops and four Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 1,211 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 376 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 12,243 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 6,115 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 6,128 who were unable to quickly return to action.

Fighters Serve as Intelligence Platforms

Fighter aircraft operating in Iraq are performing new missions by serving as intelligence-gathering platforms, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith, deputy commander of US Central Command.

“We have very good sensors on the airplanes,” Smith said, according to an Air Force news release. “They are using those sensors to try and provide situational awareness to people on the ground.”

Smith said this capability is being used to protect electrical lines and oil pipelines, in addition to more traditional missions such as providing overhead intelligence and air support to troops on the ground.

Fighter aircraft are flown by a “thinking, capable individual with a situational awareness” that can be relayed to ground forces, Smith noted. The fighters can also take action, because they are “armed and capable of going after whatever target happens to be down there.”

Jammers Thwart IEDs

Ground forces in Iraq have reduced their casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by roughly 40 percent thanks to the extensive use of jamming devices, said Army Gen. Richard A. Cody, service vice chief of staff.

The Army initiated a multiphase strategy to defeat IEDs more than a year ago. There are “a combination of things we’re doing” to stop the enemy explosives, Cody said. “We are buying millions of dollars’ worth of jammers.”

As many as 8,000 more jammers are on the way, according to press reports.

An Army spokesman said troops are encountering about 30 IEDs a day, but that roughly 40 percent—a dozen a day—are rendered inoperable by the jamming devices.

Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan


By May 3, a total of 184 US troops had died supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 72 troops killed in action and 112 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.

A total of 591 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 144 who were able to return to duty within three days and 447 who were not.

Explosion Destroys Five Tanker Trucks

An accidental explosion at a refueling station about a mile from Kandahar airfield, in southern Afghanistan, destroyed five tanker trucks. At least three truck drivers (not Americans) were injured in the early morning blasts.

US Central Command officials quickly determined that the explosions were not terrorist acts. A spokeswoman said the April 17 blasts were caused by “faulty fuel tanks.”

CH-47 Crash Kills 18

Eighteen Americans died April 6 when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter they were riding in crashed near Ghazni, Afghanistan. Fourteen soldiers, one marine, and three civilian contractors who worked for a Halliburton subsidiary died in the accident.

The CH-47 was flying a transport and supply mission. The Chinook was roughly 80 miles southwest of Kabul when it went down, in severe weather, while returning to Bagram Air Base.

News Notes

By Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor

  • President Bush on April 4 nominated Kenneth J. Krieg to be undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, according to a White House news release. Krieg is currently DOD’s director for program analysis and evaluation. Michael W. Wynne has been serving as acting undersecretary for acquisition since the May 23, 2003, resignation of Edward C. Aldridge Jr.
  • Heidi Shyu will be the new chair for the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board beginning Oct. 1. An electrical engineer from Raytheon, she has served as the vice chair of the SAB since 2003. She succeeds Daniel E. Hastings.
  • USAF and DOD gained some 230 newly minted scientists and engineers on their March 21 graduation from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Among those Air Force personnel earning advanced degrees were more than 200 company grade officers, eight enlisted members, and five civilians. An additional 15 graduates included Army and Marine Corps officers and international students from Australia, Bahrain, and South Korea.
  • NATO will hold the first exercise for its Rapid Response Force in 2006 in the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa, according to April 13 news reports.
  • A ring of laser lights surrounding Washington, D.C., was activated in May to warn commercial pilots who stray into the national capital’s restricted airspace, according to NORAD and FAA officials. The lasers cast a narrow beam, enabling system controllers to focus on a sole aircraft. The beams cause no damage to the eye. FAA officials sent a special notice to pilots and briefed those who fly in the capital area about the new system.
  • A team of Russian military officers and nuclear security specialists visited F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., April 8 on a Department of Energy-sponsored visit to share nuclear security procedures, following a US-Russia agreement reached in February.
  • Boeing received a $609 million contract for 30,072 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Work is scheduled to be completed by February 2007.
  • A C-130 destined for the scrap heap has found new life as an aeromedical evacuation trainer for medics bound for Iraq and Afghanistan. It was acquired April 2 by the 381st Training Squadron’s medical training flight at Sheppard AFB, Tex. The aircraft was modified to resemble field aircraft operating in combat conditions.
  • USAF awarded a $216 million contract to Boeing for communications work on B-52 aircraft. Work is scheduled to be completed by January 2010.
  • Federal agencies can now immediately accept veterans’ letters of disability, along with their application for employment, to expedite hiring veterans. Officials at the Office of Personnel Management have changed the application on OPM’s Web site to accept the letters. The change enables officials to evaluate claims for veterans’ preference on government job applications online. The revisions to the online form align it with the Department of Veterans Affairs policy, which regards disability letters issued since 1991 as proof of a permanent disability. More information on veterans’ preference can be found at
  • General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, San Diego, received a contract worth $68 million for system development and demonstration of the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle, the next generation armed version of the Predator UAV.
  • Air Force accident investigation officials have concluded that crew error was the chief cause of the crash of an MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft Sept. 22, 2004, at Indian Springs AFAF, Nev. The investigation report said that the pilot failed to correct the overly high angle of the Predator’s nose during landing, in time to prevent a hard landing. Other key contributing factors were: wind shear, which caused the aircraft to lose airspeed late in the landing maneuver; pilot failure to correct an unstable final approach; pilot failure to decrease power to keep the aircraft on the runway; and sensor operator’s failure to provide corrective calls for too much airspeed and vertical speed deviations. The UAV sustained more than $2.8 million in structural damage.
  • Two Predators being used for Operation Iraqi Freedom were involved in separate accidents just days apart. On March 26, an MQ-1 Predator crashed in the vicinity of Balad, Iraq, 40 miles north of Baghdad. Four days later, an MQ-1 Predator crashed in Rawah, Iraq, about 60 miles east of the Syrian border. The accidents are under investigation. There was no indication of a deliberate shootdown.