Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
April 26, 2015

Carter Commits to Continued Efforts to Reduce Sexual Assaults in Military

Defense Secretary Ash Carter “said that today’s challenges make it even more urgent that the military do better at preventing and responding to sexual assault,” reports Defense One.

“Over the last several years, he noted, the Pentagon has implemented more than 100 provisions mandated by Congress, along with its own directives, and that the estimated number of assaults has decreased as reporting of the assaults has increased. But in 2014, at least 18,900 service members — 10,400 men and 8,500 women — experienced ‘unwanted sexual contact.'”

“As Carter acknowledged, the Pentagon has struggled to reverse the damage military sexual assault has done to its reputation—the same that prompted the student to ask him whether it was safe for her to join.”

Drone Pilots Lured Away By Private Firms

“Some companies are offering Air Force drone pilots up to twice as much money to fly drones as contractors,” according to the Air Force Times.

“Of the roughly 1,200 Air Force pilots who fly remotely piloted aircraft, about 400 are in the 18X career field, which was created exclusively for drone pilots and sensor operators. The other 800 airmen are manned aircraft pilots who are either temporarily or permanently assigned to fly drones.”

“For drone pilots looking to leave the Air Force, defense firms offer more money — if they are willing to live in austere environments… Drone pilots can earn $225,000 or more if they are willing to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere overseas to launch and recover drones, because it is hard to train people for that part of the mission.”

“Major defense firms are also paying contract drone pilots roughly the same amount of money they earn in the Air Force to fly intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from inside the U.S.”

McConnell Backs NSA’s Domestic Bulk Telephony Metadata Program

The Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “introduced a bill Tuesday night to extend through 2020 a controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act.”

“The move comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is preparing legislation to scale back the government’s spying powers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act… That NSA program was revealed publicly almost two years ago by a former agency contractor, Edward Snowden.”

“In filing the bill, McConnell and Burr invoked a Senate rule that enabled them to bypass the traditional committee vetting process and take the bill straight to the floor.”

Surveying the former USS Independence on the Ocean Floor

Echo Ranger undergoes pier side testing at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, Calif.  (Boeing Photo)

Echo Ranger undergoes pier side testing at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (Boeing Photo)

Autonomous underwater vehicles are expanding the realm of the possible in oceanic exploration and knowledge. Diving to depths untouched, they use sonar and other technologies to explore crevices, map the ocean floor and make new discoveries in seeing what lies beneath the surface.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently partnered with Boeing and Coda Octopus to re-discover and survey the former USS Independence, a World War II aircraft carrier that was scuttled by the U.S. Navy in 1951 and has been resting peacefully on the ocean floor just 30 miles off the coast of Half-Moon Bay, California, ever since.

Echo Ranger, Boeing’s bright yellow autonomous submersible, dove 2,600 feet deep to capture new sonar imaging of the ship to date, using Coda Octopus’ 3D Sonar imaging technology. NOAA now has better sonar imaging of this ship than ever before and will use this information to study the ship and the surrounding environment to learn more about how the ship has fared over the last 64 years.

As this technology continues to advance, the possible achievements in the world of marine and ocean science will continue to amaze.

Watch this video of Echo Ranger’s sonar mapping mission of the USS Independence to see it in action:

Informants Play Increasing Role in Rooting Out ISIS Supporters

“The wide use of informants or undercover agents in the arrests of suspected Islamic State supporters in the U.S. is sparking criticism that authorities are luring people into crimes,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Some legal experts and defense lawyers say law-enforcement officials are pulling young and vulnerable people into the criminal acts that ultimately lead to their arrests. Others say the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s use of informants and undercover agents helps facilitate criminal activity for terror suspects who wouldn’t otherwise have the money or mental capacity to pose a serious threat.”

“About 60% of the cases against Americans on ISIS-related charges have involved informants, versus under 30% in terrorism indictments overall since 9/11.”

US Applies Laws of War to Cyberspace

NSA Director and Commander of US Cyber Command Adm. Mike Rogers told Defense One “that Cyber Command would follow international norms in determining how the U.S. uses what are sometimes called offensive cyber capabilities.”

“Rogers framed the development of cyber weapons as simply the next evolutionary step in warfare, replete with all the ethical concerns that accompanied other milestones in weapons development.”

“Rogers’s assurance that the U.S. will follow the laws of conflict in how it deploys cyber weapons is significant. But since such weapons can be constructed in secret, and, often, offer victims no way to determine attribution, the world will have to take that assurance at face value—or not.”

State Department Open to Including Iran in Talks on Regional Stability

“The U.S. State Department said on Monday it might talk with Iran about promoting regional stability, noting it had been open to including Iran in past efforts to achieve a Syrian peace deal if Tehran had altered its policy,” according to Reuters.

“But it drew a distinction between talking to Iran about issues beyond its nuclear program and actually working with Tehran on such matters, something Washington has ruled out… The White House suggested that it viewed the Iranian foreign minister’s appeal as disingenuous, particularly regarding Yemen. The United States says Iran has armed Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have taken control of much of the country.”

“The debate over regional unrest comes against the backdrop of negotiation between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States on a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states fear that an accord would let Iran devote more cash and energy to its Shi’ite proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, escalating those conflicts.”

Delivering Advanced Radars for the Super Hornet and Growler

John Keeven (right), Boeing flight simulation manager, guides Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (middle) as he flies the F/A-18 simulator while U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) watches. (Boeing photo)

John Keeven (right), Boeing flight simulation manager, guides Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (middle) as he flies the F/A-18 simulator while U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) watches. (Boeing photo)

As the only strike fighter and airborne electronic aircraft on carrier decks today, the Super Hornet and Growler are meeting the U.S. Navy’s immediate and future strike fighter needs. Inside the nose of the aircraft is a sophisticated radar that provides unparalleled situational awareness for the aircrew. The AN/APG-79 AESA Radar system gives the aircrew the ability to guide several missiles to multiple targets at extended ranges and elevation. 

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Super Hornet in flight. (Boeing photo)

Raytheon supplies the radar system and recently celebrated the delivery of the 500th APG-79 AESA radar as well as the completion of its electronic warfare wing at the company’s far field test facility in Forest, Miss. to expand operations. Distinguished guests Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) attended the event, thanking Raytheon employees for their dedication for building the best for the nation’s warfighters.

“The APG-79 AESA radar helps make the Boeing Super Hornets and Growler jets that carry it the most advanced fighter jets being produced for combat today,” said Gov. Bryant about the facility expansion.

Boeing’s F/A-18 simulator demonstration trailer was on-site to give Raytheon employees the chance to fly the Super Hornet and see their products in action. While in the demonstration trailer, Boeing representatives took the opportunity to explain to employees and guests how critical it is to fulfill the Navy’s request for 12 Super Hornets and to urge Congress to add aircraft to this year’s fiscal budget to extend production beyond 2017.

To learn more about the Super Hornet and Growler and their state of the art capabilities America depends on, visit www.fa-18.com

Should We Still Be Arming Pakistan?

Husain Haqqani: “The Obama administration’s decision this month to sell almost $1 billion in U.S.-made attack helicopters, missiles and other equipment to Pakistan will fuel conflict in South Asia without fulfilling the objective of helping the country fight Islamist extremists. Pakistan’s failure to tackle its jihadist challenge is not the result of a lack of arms but reflects an absence of will. Unless Pakistan changes its worldview, American weapons will end up being used to fight or menace India and perceived domestic enemies instead of being deployed against jihadists.”

“Given Pakistan’s history, it is likely that the 15 AH-1Z Viper helicopters and 1,000 Hellfire missiles—as well as communications and training equipment being offered to it—will be used against secular insurgents in southwest Baluchistan province, bordering Iran, and along the disputed border in Kashmir rather than against the jihadists in the northwest bordering Afghanistan.”

Marines Want Sea-Based UAVs

“As the Marine Corps returns to its amphibious roots, the service’s top aviators say its next generation unmanned aerial vehicles must be capable of operating aboard ships,” according to Military Times.

“The Corps’ future UAVs will be big, small and everything in between. They will be capable of surveillance, logistic support, direct attack missions and possibly even medical evacuation. Some will be fixed wing and others will be rotary wing.”

“But the challenge will be developing large UAVs — group four and five, which rival manned aircraft in size and speed — that can take off from and land aboard ships.”

Soldiers Trapped in Military Health System

The New York Times has a lengthy report on the military medical system, where it finds that “the nation’s 1.3 million active-duty service members are in a special bind, virtually powerless to hold accountable the health care system that treats them.”

“They are captives of the military medical system, unable, without specific approval, to get care elsewhere if they fear theirs is substandard or dangerous. Yet if they are harmed or die, they or their survivors have no legal right to challenge their care, and seek answers, by filing malpractice suits.”

V-22 Osprey Transforming Multi-Mission Capability

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A CV-22 extends its range mid-flight using the aerial refueling probe. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft is transforming how the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force Special Operations squadrons conduct their missions in diverse environments and geographies around the world.

The U.S. Marine Corps variant, MV-22, draws praise from its Marine Corps user and is currently in high demand on mission deployments worldwide. U.S. Marine Corps Col. Robert Rauenhorst highlighted how the aircraft provides increased performance over other types of military aircraft. “While performing theater security cooperation activities on the U.S.S. America in the South American region last summer, the MV-22 helped the Marines reach the shore faster so they could spend more time focusing on country engagements,” he said.

Maj. Ryan Mittelstet of the U.S. Air Force learned firsthand what makes the CV-22 Osprey such a unique aircraft. During a recent visit to the Boeing V-22 assembly facility in Philadelphia, Mittelstet recounted a December 2013 mission, as three Air Force Special Operations CV-22s attempted to rescue 30 U.S. citizens from a United Nations (U.N.) compound in Bor, South Sudan, while the rebel army engaged the arriving aircraft with small arms fire, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Mittelstet praised the Osprey’s speed, agility and survivability, which enabled the three aircraft to handle the ground fire. “I don’t really know how we made it out of there,” Mettelstet said. “We were able to fly those aircraft at 250 knots (463 kilometers per hour) for over an hour and a half to get out of there safely. And we were able to bring back the injured with their lives. The Osprey is the only aircraft that could get us in when everything was going right and the only aircraft to get us back out when everything was going wrong.”

The V-22 Osprey is deployed around the world – on ships and in combat; it is performing missions not possible for other aircraft and saving lives where others could not. The Navy has said it intends to fulfill the future Carrier onboard delivery (COD) mission requirement with a Navy variant of the V-22. This aircraft will be a baseline MV-22 aircraft with engineering changes to add an extended range fuel system, a high-frequency radio and a public address system. The Bell Boeing team stands ready to support the Navy with seamless integration of the V-22 tiltrotor into a modern Naval logistics concept of operations.

Carter to Reassure Silicon Valley

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter “will become the first sitting defense secretary in nearly 20 years to visit California’s Silicon Valley,” according to Defense One.

“In a speech at Stanford University next Thursday, Carter will  discuss the ‘future of technology, innovation, and cybersecurity’ and meet with industry executives.”

“For many in the tech community, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations soured their perception of the national security community… Current Defense Department acquisition processes, procedures and requirements make working with the Pentagon too difficult for many of Silicon Valley’s youngest and most nimble players.”

Mullen: “Distrust But Verify” in Iran Deal

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen expresses his support for the Iran nuclear framework, writing in Politico Magazine that “there is no more credible path of reducing the likelihood of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon than this potential deal.”

“Those who say the risks are too high with the current deal offer no constructive path forward save the high potential for war.  There is a view that all we need to do is intensify sanctions.  A great irony is that it is now the Revolutionary Guard and other hardliners who are getting rich on the sanctions, for they control the black market. It may be that sanctions have reached the point of diminishing returns.”

“If the hardliners prevail in the long run, the likelihood of both Iran achieving nuclear capability, the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and the outbreak of conflict rises sharply. It would be foolish to remove from play the military deterrence options available to us. But it is worth remembering that any strike, even if successful, would by all accounts only delay a nuclear breakout capability by one to three years at most while fully galvanizing the Iranian people against the U.S. and in favor of developing nuclear weapons.”

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