Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
April 23, 2014

Official: Pentagon Budget Proposals To Be Tied to ‘Needs, Not Budget Caps’

Defense News reports that “The US Defense Department will continue sending Congress budget proposals that do not adhere to federal spending caps and will instead opt to develop budgets it believes are appropriate to defend the country, a senior Pentagon official said.”

“DoD acquisition chief Frank Kendall said, “it is extremely unlikely that we will ask for less money than the president thinks he needs to defend the country.” His comments came in a speech Tuesday at a National Defense Industrial Association conference.”

“Kendall stressed that no formal White House decision had been made to submit cap-busting DoD budgets down the road, but pointed to the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal, which exceeds the caps by $115 billion between 2016 and 2019.”

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Military Preview: Obama’s Asia Trip

Stars and Stripes reports that “President Barack Obama will leave Tuesday for a four-nation trip to Asia, looking to recharge a focus on the region, an ambitious initiative that’s been sidetracked by domestic politics and international conflicts elsewhere.”

“Yet even as Obama attempts to boost his effort to emphasize U.S. interest in Asia, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine is complicating efforts to reassure Asian nations — which share the region with an increasingly assertive China — that the U.S. is committed to their security.”

“The administration’s efforts to refocus U.S. policy toward Asia were already being questioned in the region with the departure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who made Asia her first official overseas destination in 2009, and worries that a tight U.S. budget and continuing turmoil in the Middle East were proving too distracting for the administration.”

U.S. Army Must Remain Prepared for Battle

Gian Gentile of the Rand Corp. writes in the Washington Post: “Will the U.S. Army be reduced in size in the coming years? Budget reductions and a changing strategic environment demand a smaller, reorganized army. However, converting it into a force suited only for homeland defense or humanitarian missions abroad, without the ability to fight sophisticated foes as part of a joint force, would result in an unprepared Army likely to experience high casualties when called on to fight a war.”

“If history is any guide, the Army will inevitably be deployed again as a fighting force. The American people should invest in preparing for that event, and avoid the near-catastrophe that occurred in South Korea decades ago.”

Our Everyday Heroes

On a snowy National Medal of Honor Day at Arlington National Cemetery, three everyday American citizens received a prestigious civilian community service award from those who have received the nation’s top military honor, the recipients of the Medal of Honor. Recognized for their selfless service, Michael Landsberry, Connor Stotts and Troy Yocum were honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation with the Citizen Honors Award.242493 Medal of Honor_073

Michael Landsberry, a mathematics teacher at a Nevada middle school, made the split-second decision to protect the lives of his students, sacrificing his life in the process. Connor Stotts, an Eagle Scout, rescued three friends who were in danger of drowning. In 2009, Troy Yocum walked 7,880 miles across America in a “Hike for Heroes,” raising $1.3 million to support over 1,800 military families. Two years later, he founded Active Heroes, a charity that supports military families and wounded veterans.

“That’s what heroes do,” said Roger Krone, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems and the Citizen Honors keynote speaker. “They inspire us to reach beyond what we thought we were capable of and provide an example to emulate.”

The Citizen Honors Award is presented to people who, when confronted with extraordinary circumstances, make a decision to act. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation performs a national search to identify 20 finalists for the award. From among those finalists, a panel of Medal of Honor recipients selects the three individuals to receive the award.

Boeing has been a supporter of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation since its inception in 1999. The company has made a $3 million dollar multi-year commitment to support the Foundation’s Citizen Honors program and education outreach, including expanding the reach of the Medal of Honor Character Development Program.

“They chose to put the interests of others before their own…that is why these awards are so important. They serve to inspire us to be better people,” Krone said.

242493 Medal of Honor_187

 

10 Years Later, a Visit with Pat Tilman’s Wife

Army Times reports on Marie Tilman, Pat Tilman’s wife, 10 years after his death: “Sitting in the morning light in the neighborhood where she grew up, Marie is at home in a life where the present is inseparable from the past.”

“From the backyard of the house, she can look down over Leland High School. It’s where she was a cheerleader, class of ‘94, where she was voted ‘best smile.’ It’s where she first fell for a chatty football player, the one who was voted ‘most masculine.’ His name was Pat Tillman.”

Meanwhile, ESPN reports that “in his first public statements about the death of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player turned Army Ranger, one of the fellow Rangers involved in the 2004 friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan told ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’ he has lived for 10 years with the thought that he might have fired the fatal shots.”

“‘It is possible, in my mind, that I hit him,’ said Steven Elliott, who had been engaged in his first firefight as an Army Ranger when Tillman died on April 22, 2004, in the mountainous terrain of southeast Afghanistan.”

How U.S. Army Trains in CA Desert

NPR reports that “in the middle of the Mojave Desert, between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, there is a place that looks just like Afghanistan.”

“There are villages with houses, shops, a mosque and a marketplace. But it is all a facade. The area is actually a U.S. Army installation, the Fort Irwin National Training Center. If you want to see how a decade of fighting has profoundly changed the way the U.S. prepares its soldiers for war, this is where you come.”

“As the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan winds down, NPR’s Arun Rath visited the base to find out how the end of the wars would change the mission here.”

U.S. Plans Eastern Europe Military Drills

The New York Times reports that “the United States plans to carry out small ground-force exercises in Poland and Estonia in an attempt to reassure NATO’s Eastern European members worried about Russia’s military operations in and near Ukraine, Western officials said Friday.”

“The moves are part of a broader effort by NATO to strengthen the alliance’s air, sea and land presence in Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s new assertiveness in the region.”

“It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises and to what extent the moves would ease anxieties there.”

5th Boeing GPS IIF Spacecraft Sends Initial Signals from Space

When most people think of GPS, they think of the navigation systems in their car, or the map application on their cell phones. Many people don’t realize that GPS was originally designed to provide satellite communications capability for the military. Today, the Air Force continues to operate the constellation of 31 satellites for millions of civilian and military end-users around the globe.

As part of ongoing efforts to enhance this technology, a Boeing GPS IIF satellite was launched into space on Feb 20, 2014, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket.  This satellite joins four Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites already in service that are providing greater navigational accuracy, a more resilient signal, and a longer design life.

Boeing has played an integral role in the program since the first GPS satellite was launched in 1978. The sixth GPS IIF is already at its Florida launch site, undergoing preparations to enter service in the next few months. And with six more satellites ready to be deployed at the Air Force’s request, the Boeing GPS IIF will form the core of the system for many years to come.

For more information about the latest GPS IIF satellite launch, and about the program, click here.

Joint Chiefs: Allow Pay Curbs or Harm Readiness

Stars and Stripes reports that “Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is giving the Joint Chiefs of Staff an unusual and potentially powerful opportunity to persuade senators they risk a readiness crisis if they don’t take significant steps this year to slow growth in military compensation.”

“All seven of the nation’s top four-star officers are to testify May 6, a rare event. They are expected side by side to urge support for pay and benefit curbs. The scene will be in sharp contrast to pleadings for higher pay by service chiefs during earlier times of crisis for the all-volunteer military.”

“The Joint Chiefs hope to make clear the dilemma Congress has created by trying to shield compensation from the effects of the 2011 Budget Control Act of 2011, with its deep cuts to overall defense spending and its automatic enforcement tool of sequestration.”

U.S. Army Developing Solar Array for Energy

The U.S. Army announced “plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25 percent of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Ariz.”

“‘This will be the largest solar array in the department of defense on a military installation,’ according to Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment. A ground breaking is scheduled for April 25, with commercial operations commencing in late 2014.”

“‘Energy is an installation priority,’ said Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, Fort Huachuca commanding general. ‘The project goes beyond the megawatts produced. It reflects our continued commitment to southern Arizona and energy security. The project will provide reliable access to electricity for daily operations and missions moving forward.’”

“The Fort Huachuca Renewable Energy Project is a joint effort between the U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, Fort Huachuca, The General Services Administration, Tucson Electric Power and developer E.ON Climate and Renewables.”

U.S. Sending Non-Lethal Military Aid to Ukraine

Fox News reports that “the U.S. is sending helmets, sleeping bags and generators to support the Ukrainian military — but stopped short of approving other items the interim government reportedly says it needs to stand up to the might of Moscow, saber-rattling on its doorstep.”

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday that the U.S. will send the additional non-lethal military aid. The additional aid was announced as fighting between Ukraine’s military and pro-Russian factions intensified in the eastern part of the country.”

“Hagel, speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon with his Polish counterpart, said the approved aid would include medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units, hand-fuel pumps and small power generators.”

Advanced IRST Sensor Will Make Super Hornet Even More Lethal

Future threats are predicted to be even more evasive and lethal than they are today – stealthier, smarter and less predictable.  In a battle environment where radar isn’t an option, Super Hornet operators soon will be able to rely on an upgraded infrared search and track (IRST) senor system to help find threats at great distances, and determine the best weapons to eliminate them.

This advanced IRST sensor had its first successful flight on a Super Hornet last week, demonstrating that the aircraft has the growth capacity needed to evolve and accommodate new capabilities required by the U.S. Navy. IRST is currently planned to deploy by 2017.

“Adding an advanced infrared sensor to the Super Hornet broadens the Navy’s warfighting ability,” Navy F/A-18 Program Manager Capt. Frank Morley said. “Combined with the Super Hornet’s advanced radar and the Growler’s electronic attack radar jamming ability, IRST will allow the fleet to dominate the skies in all threat environments.”

Lockheed Martin provides the sensor, and Boeing integrates it onto the Super Hornet.

You can read more about this important capability here.

IRST Pod

Poland Wants More U.S., NATO Presence

Defense News reports that “Poland’s defense minister is calling for a larger US and NATO military presence in his country to deter the type of Russian aggression occurring in eastern Ukraine.”

“Tomasz Siemoniak is scheduled to meet with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday to discuss ways the US military could partner more with Poland at a time when Russia flexes its military muscles on the Crimean Peninsula and near Ukraine.”

Defense Sec. Hagel Launches Military Justice Review

Military Times reports that “the Pentagon is launching a ‘systemic’ review of the entire military justice system that will look at how commanders convene courts-martial and impose nonjudicial punishments.”

“The 18-month review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ‘will help ensure the continued effectiveness of our armed forces and the fair administration of justice for our service members,’ Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.”

“The aim of the review is to ‘provide both a step-back look at ways to improve how the UCMJ operates and a close technical scrub to address any discontinuity after decades of individual amendments,’ according to the announcement.”

“The review comes at a time of increasing concern among Pentagon leaders about sexual assault specifically and broader misconduct across the force after years of war.”

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