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September 16, 2014

Report: USAF Budget To Continue Push for Cuts

Defense News reports that “when the US Air Force rolled out its budget request in March, it was billed as a realistic look at the post-sequestration world, one filled with necessary tough choices but still maintaining current capabilities.”

“Air Force leaders’ intent to modernize the force quickly crashed against a brick wall in the shape of Congress, as both chambers made clear that cuts to the A-10 close air support plane, and to a lesser extent the U-2 surveillance aircraft, have little support.”

“With the Hill dug in, the Air Force seems prepared to stick to its guns on its FY 2016 proposal. Multiple sources tell Defense News that the service’s budget proposal hews closely to what was submitted in 2015, despite expected congressional pushback.”

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Congress to Review Obama’s War Strategy

The Associated Press reports that “this week offers Congress its best chance to get answers about President Barack Obama’s new Mideast counterterror strategy.”

“As lawmakers prepare for votes to arm and train Syrian rebels – an element of Obama’s plan to fight Islamic State militants – members from both parties are airing their concerns.”

“Some want harder action against the Islamic State extremists who’ve conquered parts of Syria and Iraq. Others fear entanglement in a new war. Lawmakers also want to know why the administration wants to help rebels it has largely avoided aiding militarily throughout Syria’s three-year civil war and what the costs and duration of such an engagement might be.”

Houston Companies Advance Military Vet Hiring Push; Possible ‘Vet Hiring’ Resentment at Federal Level

The Houston Chronicle reports that “almost any online search engine will yield hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs for veterans in Houston in most every field, including health care, oil and gas, administrative, labor/skilled workers, marketing, human resources.”

“With Houston’s two most prominent industries, oil and gas and health care, jobs are plentiful.”

“Moreover, these industries have focused initiatives to recruit veterans that include attending veteran job fairs, and on military bases prior to those servicemen and women being discharged.”

Meanwhile, Stars and Stripes reports that “President Barack Obama’s push to hire military veterans for jobs across the government is fueling resentment in federal offices, as longtime civil servants and former troops on the other side of the cubicle increasingly question each other’s competence and qualifications.”

“With veterans moving to the head of the hiring queue in the biggest numbers in a generation, there’s growing bitterness on both sides, according to dozens of interviews with federal employees.”

Partners Shaping the Future Air Force

image001The Air Force will celebrate its 67th birthday this week at the same time as the annual Air Force Association Air and Space Conference Technology and Exposition (AFA). It’s an opportunity for partners, including Boeing, to demonstrate how they will help the Air Force shape its future by offering innovative, affordable products and solutions.

The Air Force plays a critical role in our nation’s defense. Perhaps best known for operating bombers and fighter jets, they also play a key role in supporting the joint force. The Air Force provides our nation with surveillance via satellites and unmanned aircraft and is solely responsible for providing aerial refueling for all fixed wing aircraft.

With such broad responsibilities, the Air Force is working to stay on the cutting edge and look to partners and suppliers to offer the most innovative products at an affordable cost. At AFA, Boeing will feature its solution for the Air Force’s Next Generation Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), its newest tanker, the KC-46A, and the Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system.

The show also will spotlight legacy programs including the F-15 fighter, Minuteman missile guidance system and Wideband Global SATCOM satellite. During the Air Force Anniversary dinner on Sept. 17, Boeing will receive the 2014 John R. Alison Award for outstanding contributions by industrial leadership in national defense for the development of the C-17 Globemaster III.

Boeing Defense, Space & Security CEO Chris Chadwick also will give a speech Sept. 17 about the evolving defense industrial base.

Real Changes Coming to Navy Fitness Regime? Or Just Internet Rumor?

Navy Times reports that “rumor has it that some big changes are coming to the Navy’s physical fitness assessment, but top officials say they’re just that — rumors.”

“The scuttlebutt that hard-core changes were coming to the PFA has spread through the command fitness leader community since they were first posted on the online forum Reddit on Aug. 28.”

The piece continues: “Those changes are not ‘soon to be released’ as new rules, as the anonymous Reddit post claimed, but neither are they groundless. The proposals were ginned up by command fitness leaders who were asked for ways to improve the PFA, Navy Times has confirmed.

“The leaked proposals are a veritable wish list of what CFLs really want. But they have not been approved and are unlikely to be, said the chief of naval personnel’s senior enlisted adviser.”

Senate Democrats Seek More Information on Obama’s ISIS Plan; Two-Part Vote on ISIS Request Predicted

The Senate’s top Pentagon appropriator told reporters Thursday he will be probing the Obama administration about legal authorities for the fight against Islamic State extremists, including in Syria, Roll Call reports.

“I have a lot of questions to ask about how they’re both interpreting the vote on the invasion of Iraq and the [authorization of use of military force] with Afghanistan,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said after a news conference where Senate Democratic leaders called for Congress to unite behind President Barack Obama as the nation confronts ISIS.

In another piece, Roll Call’s 218 writes: House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Thursday afternoon that he expects Congress will vote next week to grant President Barack Obama authority to arm Syrian rebels against the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS.

But the Maryland Democrat also said he expected that that vote wouldn’t be Congress’s last word on the subject.

“I believe a two-step process is what we will, I think, pursue,” Hayer told CQ Roll Call and the Washington Post on Thursday during a taping of the C-SPAN program “Newsmakers,” set to air on Sunday morning. “I think there will be consideration of the president’s request to train and equip regional players.”

How More Military Spend Could Save U.S. Money

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor who now directs Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute, writes in MarketWatch: “I was in a meeting of the National Economic Council staff in the West Wing of the White House on Sept. 11, 2001, when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Not only did terrorists destroy the twin towers, damage the Pentagon and kill 3,000 people, but they also forced the U.S. to spend additional billions on defense, swelling the deficit.”

“In 2001, the federal budget had a $128 billion surplus, about 1% of gross domestic product. The National Economic Council could talk about how to use the surplus to benefit the economy, such as putting Social Security on a path to financial solvency, or lowering taxes. But a recession that began in March 2001 was exacerbated by the 9/11 attacks.”

“Fast forward to 2014, when our nation’s debt is $18 trillion. Social Security and Medicare consume 40 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government, a proportion expected only to increase in the years ahead. Our fiscal situation looks dire now, but it will be worse if another 9/11 comes along and we must increase military spending to defend ourselves.”

U.S. Navy Pilot Praises EA-18G Growler in Aviation Week Article

Crews operating the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler continue to be impressed by the capabilities the Boeing-built electronic attack aircraft provides. Aviation Week, which had a reporter on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during the recent Rim of Pacific (Rimpac) exercises, recently published an article about the Growler’s performance.


Photo credit: Boeing

Click here to read the article.

U.S. Military Turns to Harvard to Help Build Robot Suit

The Verge reports that “it’s no secret the US military is looking to enhance soldiers of the near-future with the kind of gear and weaponry seen usually in sci-fi (see the TALOS “Iron Man” project as one prime example). But it’s latest project is based on something more familiar: the human body. As announced today, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a $2.9 million contract to researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to develop a flexible robotic exoskeleton that can be worn by soldiers — and eventually civilians — to make them stronger and more resilient. The suit could even help people with mobility issues and paralysis to move again.”

“In that sense, the Soft Exosuit, as it’s known, is similar in its goals to other robotic exoskeletons we’ve seen and written about before. But unlike many of those suits — which tend to be bulky, heavy and somewhat cumbersome — the Soft Exosuit is specifically designed to be as light and flexible as possible. It fits mostly around a wearer’s waist and legs and is made up primarily of textiles woven into straps which contain microprocessors, sensors, and a power supply. The motors that provide additional force and mobility are also located in a strap that goes around the wearer’s waist.”

U.S. Military Taps Advanced Tech to Save Lives

Fox News reports that “sophisticated drone, mapping, and translation technologies will play a significant role in the U.S. military’s disaster relief efforts.”

“The U.S. Southern Command’s Science, Technology and Experimentation division showed off a number of new technologies at its headquarters in Miami last week, which will boost the military’s ability to perform humanitarian operations.”

“The division develops technology with a range of partners – encompassing government and non-governmental organizations, as well as the corporate sector.”

ISIS Battle: Little Immediate Impact on U.S. Military Budget

Navy Times reports that “President Obama’s new strategy for confronting the extremists known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the U.S. military’s operational tempo or overall budget.”

“But his new goal to ‘degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy’ does appear to meet the Pentagon’s own definition of ‘mission creep.’”

The piece continues: “… militarily, the new mission the president outlined will not necessarily affect the Defense Department’s budget planning, a key issue on the minds of many service members as the Pentagon seeks to scale back the natural growth of pay and benefits during the next several years.”

“Defense officials say this summer’s operations in Iraq have cost an average of about $7.5 million a day. Outside experts estimate that it costs the Pentagon between $600,000 and $1 million to deploy one service member for one year. So back-of-the-envelope estimates for the military operations Obama outlined Wednesday might amount to no more than a few billion dollars a year, or a small fraction of the overall defense budget and substantially smaller than the current operations in Afghanistan.”

QF-16 Training Falcon Provides Unmanned Aerial Target

On a recent dry, clear summer morning, Boeing and the U.S. Air Force readied the QF-16 aerial target for its first live fire test.

The live fire test successfully demonstrated the QF-16’s ability to serve as a training tool for U.S. forces preparing to combat future threats. Boeing is modifying early-model F-16s into the QF-16 role providing an unmanned aerial target for the latest ground-based missile test. Fighter pilots also can use the QF-16 to sharpen their air-to-air combat skills by battling the unmanned F-16s.

The first low-rate production QF-16 aircraft is slated to begin work this month at Boeing Cecil Field in Florida. In the future, U.S. crews will have one of the world’s most unique training assets available to them.

Check out this video about the live fire test:

More Congressional Reaction: ‘Rallying’ Around Military Plan

Defense News reports that ” Lawmakers are rallying around President Barack Obama’s plan to increase US military operations against the Islamic State, with some wanting stronger steps and few demanding Congress authorize the strikes.”

The piece continues: “Lawmakers reacted to Obama’s announcement with support. Some issued enthusiastic statements, calling the Islamic State (IS) a direct and immediate threat to the United States. Others reacted with cautious endorsements. But only a handful called for formal congressional authorization of the coming strikes and deployments.”

“The support came from both Obama’s Democratic allies and his Republican critics.”

Analysis: New War Campaign; Old Legacy

The New York Times writes: “In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him.”

“It will be a significantly different kind of war — not like Iraq or Afghanistan, where many tens of thousands of American troops were still deployed when Mr. Obama took the oath nearly six years ago. And even though Mr. Obama compared it to the small-scale, sporadic strikes against isolated terrorists in places like Yemen and Somalia, it will not be exactly like those either.”

“Instead, the widening battle with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be the next chapter in a grueling, generational struggle that has kept the United States at war in one form or another since that day 13 years ago on Thursday when hijacked airplanes shattered America’s sense of its own security. Waged by a president with faded public standing, the new phase will not involve many American troops on the ground, but seems certain to require a far more intense American bombing blitz than in Somalia or Yemen.”

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