Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
March 6, 2015

Defense Spending Impacts More Than Defense

Working Capital Review: How U.S. military spending built Silicon Valley — and drives business innovation

USAF to Determine What Follows Total Force Report

Air Force Times reports that “the US Air Force has submitted a congressionally mandated report on force structure and integration between the active, Air National Guard and Reserve components, but work is already underway for the next wave of analysis on three key mission areas.”

“The report represents the service’s official response to 42 suggestions laid out by the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, a congressionally formed panel that submitted its final report more than a year ago.”

“In charge of the response to Congress was the Total Force Continuum, a full-time group of one-star generals. An annual update on the progress of these recommendations is required by the service through 2019, based on congressional language.”

U.S. Military v. Congress on Climate Security

OilPrice.com reports that “a new study concludes that climate change played a role in sparking the civil war in Syria, adding to the body of research showing a climate link to the unrest in the Middle East.”

“The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on March 2, finds that a multi-year drought between 2007 and 2010 led to “widespread crop failure,” forcing rural communities to migrate to urban centers en masse. As a result, Syrian cities became a tinderbox, and the subsequent political instability ignited into violence in 2011 at the onset of the Arab Spring. The Syrian civil war has raged since then.”

Chinook to the Rescue; Mission Accomplished

Boeing -- Chinook

Photo courtesy of California National Guard

Rescuing stranded hikers isn’t unusual for the U.S. Park Service. However, calling in a Chinook to rescue a stranded hiker is not an everyday occurrence.

Early in February, snow storms engulfed the peaks at Yosemite National Park. Midday on Feb. 5, Park Officials were alerted that a young man was reported to be alone and disoriented near Iron Mountain at an elevation of 9,000 feet.

Park officials coordinated with the local Sherriff’s office, who alerted the Office of Emergency Services and the California National Guard Joint Operations Center. The report stated a 22-year-old male did not know his location and had spent the previous night alone with no food, water or shelter in four feet of snow. The California Highway Patrol dispatched a helicopter to search for the missing person, but due to strong gusty winds, their helicopter couldn’t fly at the high altitudes.

“We had a CH-47D Chinook crew in Sacramento and ready to respond,” said Capt. Benjamin D Bowman, commander, Company B, 1-126th General Support Aviation Battalion, California National Guard.

The crew diverted to Stockton, Calif., where it took on rescue equipment, reconfigured the aircraft for a hoist rescue and brought on an additional pilot to assist with the operation. “We were able to contact the stranded hiker on his still-operable cell phone,” said Bowman. “We talked him through the procedures for the rescue. Because he was on the side of a steep slope, surrounded by 100-foot trees and unable to hike out, we planned to hoist him out on the rescue seat.”

Bowman relayed information from the hiker to the Chinook crew by phone, guiding the aircraft to the hiker’s location until the crew could see him among the trees. The flight engineer lowered the rescue seat while the pilots worked the aircraft controls to hold a stable hover in very strong, gusty winds. The young hiker climbed into the seat and was slowly lifted to safety just more than three hours from notification to rescue.

The Chinook is called in when conditions keep other helicopters from flying. With its tandem rotor configuration, the CH-47 can operate at high altitudes and crosswind conditions with the precision that enables a safe rescue like this one. The Chinook is capable of supporting multiple missions including troop transport, special operations, equipment transport, Search and Rescue, humanitarian relief, fire fighting, MEDEVAC and logistical supply.

For coverage from the California National Guard on this incredible rescue, click here.

U.S. Military May Expand Central Europe Presence

Defense News reports that “the US military’s plans to send troops into Romania and Bulgaria as a deterrence to Russian aggression could expand to include Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia’s southern neighbor, Georgia, according to a US Army official spearheading the effort.”

“Exercises between US troops with Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, which began last April, will expand through the summer, said Col. Michael Foster, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vincenza, Italy. The exercises are part of the US Army Europe-led land force assurance training mission, known as Operation Atlantic Resolve — now expanded into “north” and “south” components.”

Carter to Congress: Mosul Briefing Inaccurate

Reuters reports that “a U.S. military official who briefed news media about Iraq’s upcoming offensive to retake Mosul provided inaccurate information but should never have publicly discussed war plans anyway, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday.”

“Carter’s criticism of the February news briefing by an official from the U.S. military’s Central Command was accompanied by an assurance from the top U.S. military officer to Congress that the matter was subject to an internal inquiry.”

Pentagon Looks to Silicon Valley for Innovations

“A small group of high-ranking Pentagon officials made a quiet visit to Silicon Valley in December to solicit national security ideas from start-up firms with little or no history of working with the military,” the New York Times reports.

“The visit was made as part of an effort to find new ways to maintain a military advantage in an increasingly uncertain world.”

“In announcing its Defense Innovation Initiative in a speech in California in November, Chuck Hagel, then the defense secretary, mentioned examples of technologies like robotics, unmanned systems, miniaturization and 3-D printing as places to look for “game changing” technologies that would maintain military superiority.”

Breaking Ground on the Commercial Crew Access Tower

Boeing rendering

Boeing rendering

Construction has begun at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Commercial Crew access tower.

The crew access tower, being built by United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41), will be used for launches of Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket. The tower will be 200 feet (61 meters) high and include an elevator, as well as means for quick evacuation from the structure in case of an emergency.

The CST-100 is designed to transport up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the International Space Station (ISS) and the Bigelow planned station. Its first flight is slated for 2017.

Debate Over Cost of $55 Billion Mystery Plane Begins

“The closest it’s come to a public debut was a prime-time tease during a Super Bowl ad that showed its svelte outline veiled beneath a sheet, but revealed not a glimpse of the Pentagon’s most mysterious plane,” the Washington Post reports.

“Highly classified, the program is one of the Air Force’s top priorities — and its most expensive. The service estimates it will cost $55 billion to build as many as 100 of what it calls the Long Range Strike Bomber, which is designed to fly deep into enemy territory undetected until the mushroom cloud begins to bloom.”

“In the coming months, the Air Force is expected to award a contract for the next-generation bomber, which would begin flying in the mid-2020s, have the potential to fly manned or unmanned and give the military the ability to hit any target ‘at any point on the globe.'”

Pentagon Program Opens Door to U.K. Collaboration

Science Insider: “A long-running Pentagon program that pumps about $250 million annually into U.S. universities for basic research is taking on an international flavor. This year, for the first time, the Department of Defense (DOD) formally encouraged U.S. applicants to partner with researchers from the United Kingdom in seeking grants from the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program.”

Memo: Pentagon to Increase Wargaming in Tech Push

Defense News reports that “the Pentagon’s top military leadership has been given their marching orders to move out on an ambitious wargaming plan to rescue a skill set that has ‘atrophied’ in recent years, according to an internal Feb. 9 memo issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.”

“The wargaming effort fits into an increasingly expansive, interlinked Defense Innovation Initiative (DII) spearheaded by Work and chief weapons buyer Frank Kendall to push the bureaucracy and industry to think critically about how and where the US technological advantage is slipping.”

“The memo stressed that as part of his desire to ‘reinvigorate’ wargaming in the department, ‘effort must be made to incorporate commercial and defense industry expertise into the larger wargaming effort’ in order to ‘ensure its vitality and flexibility.'”

Demand Signal Growing to Convert Dumb Bombs to Smart Weapons with JDAM

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Boeing rendering

From extensive use during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, to today’s high operations tempo, there’s increasing demand for Joint Attack Direct Munition (JDAM) guidance kits to convert existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided “smart” weapons.

The JDAM guidance kit upgrades existing dumb bombs to add control and lift as well as a Global Positioning System aided Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) for precise targeting capability. Guiding free-fall bombs to targets reduces collateral damage, compared with an un-guided bomb, and also reduces the number of weapons needed to neutralize targets. This level of precision and reliability has made JDAM the preferred precision guided munition for the U.S. and 27 international allies.

Last year, international allied nations filled orders exceeding 11,000 JDAM guidance kits – a record order quantity. Boeing Weapons & Missile Systems in St. Charles, Mo., where the low cost kits are built, is responding by increasing production to meet U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and international demand that’s expected to continue into 2015 and beyond.

JDAM kits can be built up in the field based on mission requirements. Additional add-on capabilities such as a laser sensor kit allow JDAMs to hit moving targets. There’s also an extended range wing kit for JDAM being developed and tested by Boeing and the Commonwealth of Australia to extend the range of a conventional JDAM from approximately 15 miles to more than 40 miles. In a shrinking budget environment, the JDAM system offers a cost effective and flexible option for global military operations.

‘Captivating’ Photos of U.S. Military Personnel

Huffington Post pulls together some incredible U.S. Military photos from Flickr accounts in February . Definitely worth viewing.

Interactive Map Shows ‘Graveyard’ of US Military Planes

The Independent (UK) reports that “the largest “plane graveyard” in the world where more than 4,400 aircraft are collecting dust in the Arizona desert can now be explored in intricate detail.”

“A high definition interactive map produced by Bing shows the US military planes of all shapes and sizes lined up in meticulous rows on the reddish earth.”

“Zooming in in ‘bird’s eye‘ mode shows them in three-dimensional detail, with decommissioned fighters coated in protective sheeting and covered in white to protect them from the baking sun.”

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