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November 27, 2014

Report: Top Contender Drops from Defense Secretary Consideration

Agence France-Presse reports that “a former senior US defense official touted as the most likely candidate to succeed Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief has taken herself out of the running, a source familiar with the situation told AFP on Tuesday.”

“Michele Flournoy, 53, was widely considered the frontrunner for the post of defense secretary and if confirmed would have been the first woman to hold the position.”

“But Flournoy, the former number-three-ranking official at the Pentagon, wrote to the board of the think tank she leads and founded, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), saying she would not be taking up the position.”

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Life Inside Ebola Isolation Unit at U.S. Base

The Associated Press reports that “with plenty of flat screen TVs, game nights and even an outdoor fire pit, life in isolation for members of the U.S. military who have returned from the Ebola mission in West Africa can look a lot like summer camp.”

“The Defense Department is requiring military service members to undergo 21 days of isolation and monitoring as a precaution, but that doesn’t mean the troops are sitting in a hospital or even just one building. At Langley Air Force Base, one of five U.S. bases designated to house returning service members for monitoring, a wooded section of the base near the runway has been turned into a small village.”

Ted Cruz Floats Joe Lieberman for Defense Secretary

Sen. Ted Cruz has an idea for a new Defense secretary that the incoming Senate Armed Services chairman would love, Roll Call reports.

The Texas Republican on Monday floated the name of former Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut, to replace Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon.

“We need a Secretary of Defense who is squarely focused on defending the national security interests of the United States, first and foremost, and especially preventing a bad deal over Iran’s nuclear weapons program that could do irreparable harm to us and our allies,” Cruz said in a statement.

Building the Capability for a Mars Landing

Human exploration to deep space has long been a dream of Earth’s inhabitants. Finally, we are building the capabilities to make the long journey – and return home safely. It all begins with the rocket that can escape Earth’s atmosphere with enough power left over to carry large elements of those capabilities into deep space to support a long-term human mission. The rocket is NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), and Boeing is right now manufacturing SLS flight hardware in New Orleans at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility.

Boeing has just released a video, “38 Stories of Power,” showcasing the rocket build and NASA’s vision for pioneering the deep space frontier.

In the video, Paisley Matthews, Boeing program integration manager for the Space Launch System, explains how Boeing researchers are designing innovative technologies that will thrust humans and cargo into deep space, building the capability for a manned Mars landing in 2030.

It’s no small challenge.

SLS is the largest vehicle ever planned or that exists today – it will tower 384 feet tall or about 38 stories. The rocket will weigh about 6.5-million pounds, have a payload equivalent to the weight of 22 elephants and produce 9-million pounds of thrust.

The SLS will launch for the first time in 2018 for Exploration Mission 1, with an uncrewed capsule, for a trip around the moon.

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Freed Hostages Include US Military Instructor

UPI reports that “Eight hostages, including a U.S. military instructor, were freed Tuesday in a raid in Yemen against their al-Qaida kidnappers.”

“Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee announced the information, adding seven al-Qaida members were killed, although not disclosing the nationality of the foreign hostage. A Yemeni government source told Al Jazeera he was an American who worked as an instructor at the al-Anad military base, adding the rescue mission occurred near the base.”

“It was not clear when the eight were abducted. The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa offered no comment.”

Analysis: Who Might Be Next Defense Chief?

Defense News writes that “when the announcement came on Monday, with no successor named to be chewed over during the lame duck session of the 113th Congress, a litany of familiar names cropped up as [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel’s potential replacement.”

“At the top of the list — as she has been before — sits Michele Flournoy, a longtime defense expert who has spent a career moving in and out of government service, academia and the think tank world.”

“Former deputy defense secretary Ash Carter is also on the short list, and it is widely held that either one is more than qualified to take the Pentagon’s top job.”

“But some there is a real question of how much it will ultimately matter who gets to sit in the big seat at the five-sided building across the river, given the White House’s penchant for controlling national security matters tightly, along with a powerful National Security Council that has the president’s trust and clashed not only with Hagel, but his predecessors Leon Panetta and Bob Gates.”

Army Times points out that “Hagel’s replacement could face rough confirmation.”

Howie Kurtz writes on about what they call “Leak War: How the White House unloaded on Chuck Hagel while firing him.”

U.S. Ebola Troops Arrive in Germany for Monitoring

Stars and Stripes reports that “the first planeload of American servicemembers returning to Germany from Africa touched down Tuesday after the German government approved a U.S. Army-run Ebola monitoring facility on its soil.”

“’We are grateful to Germany for its assistance in confronting this global health concern,’ said Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for U.S. European Command.”

“The monitoring site is located on the Army’s Smith Barracks in Baumholder, about 20 miles north of Ramstein Air Base. An Air Force C-17 carrying 54 passengers touched down at Ramstein on Tuesday morning, according to the base’s 86th Airlift Wing. It’s not known if all passengers were U.S. troops, and officials have not said if all 54 were taken to Baumholder.”

Growler: Providing Critical Protection to Our Warfighters


(Boeing Photo)

Electronic Attack Squadron 139 (VAQ-139) – the Cougars – is a U.S. Navy squadron currently deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in the Persian Gulf. With five EA-18G Growlers flying from the ship, the capabilities of the aircraft are critical to operations.

The Growler provides electronic sensing and attack capability to U.S. Navy, joint and coalition forces. The flexibility of the aircraft allows it to address threats of vastly different magnitudes, whether interrupting command and control networks for enemy communications on the ground, or creating a sanctuary for allied operations in a sophisticated Integrated Air Defense System (IADS).

The Growler provides essential protection for U.S. and allied forces. Watch this video to hear more from Growler operators firsthand.

Analysis: Obama Move Confronts New Military Realities

The Los Angeles Times writes: “President Obama’s decision to authorize a wider U.S. military role in Afghanistan next year was a pragmatic one, a recognition that as much as he would like it to be so, the fighting in Afghanistan is not over.”

“The administration quietly approved guidelines, revealed over the weekend, that could broaden the military role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year beyond what had been expected.”

“But how much fighting the 9,800 U.S. troops will see depends on hard-to-predict factors, such as the continuing strength of the 13-year-old insurgency and the effectiveness of Afghanistan’s own security forces, said several U.S. officials, who agreed to discuss the decision in return for anonymity.”

Hagel Forced to Resign

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “is stepping down amid criticism of the president’s national security team on a series of global issues, including the threat posed by the militant group known as ISIS,” NBC News reports.

“Senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News Monday that Hagel was forced to resign.”

The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.”

Reducing Burnout Among Intel Analysts

Military Times reports that “they stay up all night and chug too many energy drinks. They have psychiatrists and chaplains on call, and a therapy dog named Lily.”

“Secluded in a dimly lit, cavernous maze of computer screens, they collect and analyze mission data that is transmitted from an aerial, unblinking eye — drones — flying anywhere in the world.”

“The airmen who walk the halls of the 480th Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Wing headquarters here are among the 6,000 airmen around the globe committed to fighting a new type of war where the margin between victory and defeat lies in massive amounts of information.”

Veterans Helping Veterans

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Click on image to see a video of volunteers honoring veterans by rebuilding their home. (SARAH REED/BOEING)

On a brisk fall morning, in a suburb of St. Louis, Mo, U.S. veterans were recently honored in a very special way. More than 175 volunteers converged on a small apartment complex that had fallen in disrepair. The complex is home to more than 30 veterans, and the volunteers were there to rebuild not only cracking sidewalks but the spirit of many of the home’s occupants.

The apartments are run by U.S.VETS – an organization that provides affordable housing to homeless veterans nationwide. With the help of Rebuilding Together- St. Louis, the volunteers replanted shrubbery, repaint apartments and re-kindle the spirits of the veterans who live in the complex.

Boeing recognizes that defense of a nation is an enduring mission. The company and its employees are committed to supporting our nation’s military personnel, veterans and their families through events like this one in St. Louis and many others around the nation. With more than 21,000 veterans and reservists among the Boeing ranks, the company recognizes the unique value veterans bring to the workplace, and works to create opportunities, invest in programs and form partnerships that benefit them and their families.

In 2013, Boeing and its employees contributed more than $16.4 million to support more than 350 military and veterans-specific organizations and efforts. Partnerships and contributions focus on helping veterans transition into civilian careers and communities, meeting the needs of military families and providing leadership development to service members as well as paying tribute to and honoring their legacy of service.

The company also shows appreciation for the contribution of service members past and present through sponsorship of programs like A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House, a concert event taped on the South Lawn of the White House for hundreds of troops and their guests and broadcast on public television.

Profile: New Head (and Mission) for Air University

Defense News reports that “on Nov. 10, military officials, civic leaders and community notables from around Montgomery, Alabama, gathered to watch Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast take command of Air University, the center of education for the world’s largest Air Force.”

“Although it’s a scene oft-repeated throughout the service whenever one commander leaves and another takes over, this handover may represent more than just a change on the masthead. If Kwast succeeds, it could represent a turning point in how the service relates to Air University, or AU, a crucial part of the Air Force often regarded as a backwater by the Beltway crowd.”

“Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, charged Kwast with changing how AU connects back to the rest of the service, broadening military education while tapping into the reservoir of thinkers.”

Analysis: What Alexander The Great Can Teach About When a War is Over

The New York Times runs a piece by author and West Point English Professor Elizabeth D. Samet, that looks to history as a guide to help determine when a war is over: “This fall, I tried in my small way to seize the chance to explore the culture of long campaigns and to examine the particular difficulty of recognizing the end. The context is a course on world literature. My students, juniors and seniors at the Military Academy, are perhaps more keenly interested than most in the mythologies of long wars. As they contemplate their military careers, they also need to know what it means to serve in the wake of a war. Together we have been following Alexander the Great’s line of march. This long campaign effectively began at the same time as Alexander’s succession to the Macedonian throne of his father, Philip, in 336 B.C., when he crushed a Greek revolt, and ended only with his death 13 years later in 323 B.C., at age 32.”

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